Eye On Boise

WEDNESDAY, AUG. 16, 2006, 5:09 P.M.

Cheney: ‘You all know Bill’

Vice President Dick Cheney gave GOP congressional candidate Bill Sali his unqualified support at a Boise fundraiser this afternoon, calling Sali “a great candidate for Congress” and adding, to a crowd of about 160 supporters, “You all know Bill.”

The $125-per-person fundraiser offered Sali supporters a chance to mix, nibble, and hear the vice president’s speech – which included a grim update on the war on terrorism – while bigger spenders paid $2,100 per couple for both the reception at the Boise Centre on the Grove and a chance to pose for a photo with the vice president. Sali’s campaign had no immediate breakdown on how many paid at which levels.

Sali beamed as Cheney heaped praise on him. “He’s somebody you can count on to look out for the taxpayer, the property owner, the farmer and rancher and the entrepreneur,” Cheney told the appreciative crowd. “Bill is ready to make a difference in Washington. He’s going to make the kind of congressman who makes all of you proud.”

Sali got only 25.8 percent of the vote, however, in a bitter, six-way Republican primary in May. The controversial longtime state legislator, known for his strident anti-abortion stands, has made lots of enemies over the years in his own party, including GOP House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, who after clashing with Sali during the legislative session, sputtered, “That idiot is just an absolute idiot.” It wasn’t the first time Sali had clashed with his own party’s speaker – former speaker and current Congressman Mike Simpson once threatened to toss Sali out the third-story window of his state Capitol office.

Cheney was all positive. “Bill Sali is exactly the kind of person who belongs in Congress, and President Bush and I look forward to welcoming him to Washington come January,” Cheney said as he concluded his remarks, followed by a loud swell of recorded march music as he zipped out of the room.

Sali, clearly moved, told the crowd, “As he has so poignantly stated, there’s a lot at stake in this election.” Republicans must get their message out, he said. “If we don’t get that done, Democrats have a real chance to win.”

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