First Lady Michelle Obama tried to help get Patty Murray re-elected by telling a luncheon crowd to get “fired up.” U.S. Sen. John McCain tried to boost Republican Dino Rossi’s chances of joining him in the Senate by saying Murray “engages in a corrupt practice.”
With eight days left in the election, Washington’s Senate race was dominated by surrogates Monday.
In a telephone press conference set up by the Rossi campaign, McCain came within inches of calling Murray corrupt for seeking earmarks: “She engages in that corrupt practice. Whether she is corrupt or not, I’ll let others decide.”
The Murray campaign, which insists the earmarks go to worthy projects backed by communities, was quick to criticize Rossi for campaigning with someone it labeled “anti-Boeing.” Murray and McCain have a long-running fight over awarding the contract for a new Air Force tanker on which Boeing and European-based Airbus are bidding.
The McCain teleconference was scheduled a few hours before Murray appeared with Michelle Obama in Bellevue and was supposed to have two GOP heavy hitters, McCain and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, on the phone for questions. Coburn didn’t get connected and McCain was cut off before the last question could be asked.
McCain blasted earmarks as “a disgraceful process” that Congress should end permanently. That’s slightly different from Rossi’s position that he will not seek earmarks until the federal budget is balanced, and at that point might consider them along with changes in the budgeting process.
“I don’t know why that should be a criteria,” McCain said. “I respectfully disagree with my friend Dino on that.”
Rossi wasn’t on the call. His staff quickly arranged another teleconference for him to reiterate his opposition on earmarks and say he’d agree to eliminate them if the budgeting process could be changed.
Michelle Obama told a luncheon crowd estimated at 1,400 that her husband “needs leaders like Patty to have his back. And Patty needs folks like all of you to make it happen.”
The election isn’t just about the work Obama and the Democrats have done in the last two years, she told people who paid between $75 and $150 at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency: “This election is about all that we have left to do in the months and years ahead.”