Clint Didier, who placed third in last month’s U.S. Senate primary, released a long letter to supporters last week explaining why he still can’t endorse fellow Republican Dino Rossi, who finished second.
Although from the letter, one might argue that Didier doesn’t consider Rossi a fellow Republican, at least not until Rossi makes certain statements about taxes, federal spending and abortion. By trying to dictate terms, Didier is putting Rossi in a very strange position.
Didier posted “An Open Letter to All Republicans” on his website, takebackwashington.org, on Friday. In it, the former NFL football player says he wants incumbent Democrat Patty Murray to lose as much as any Republican, but owes it to his supporters to endorse only a candidate sharing his views of limited government and individual liberty. He recounts a call last month in which he asked Rossi to promise three things: Don’t add to federal spending, don’t raise taxes and introduce Rep. Ron Paul’s Sanctity of Life amendment in the Senate.
“He refused. Sensing Rossi’s reluctance to a public commitment, I even offered to accept his private verbal commitment to me alone – believing I could then feel good enough to endorse. He refused. The phone call ended there. I did not ask for a commitment to reducing taxes and spending. All I asked is for a pledge not to let either grow beyond where they stand now.”
The interesting thing about this is that Rossi is running on a campaign of cutting spending and taxes; he may be trying to finesse the abortion issue a bit, but he’s taking heat from Democrats for saying “maybe” when discussing exclusions for rape, incest or the life of the mother while ruling out all other abortions. Of the call, Rossi’s campaign has said he agrees with Didier but doesn’t let anyone dictate terms.
In the letter, Didier disses Rossi as “one of those Republicans who sells us out in the middle of the night to more and bigger government.” He goes on to quote William Wallace – or more accurately Mel Gibson acting as Wallace in “Braveheart,” which historians might note is not the same thing – to support his point that one should go for a big victory, not settle for “scraps.”
If Rossi makes the pledge, Didier says he’ll appear at a “unity event” state party officials want to hold, and travel around the state on his own dime to campaign for Rossi. If not, he’ll apparently devote his time to his Take Back Washington activities.
But if Rossi makes the pledge, he’s sure to be pilloried by Democrats for pandering to the most conservative elements of the GOP and the independent voter blocs. He may pick up some of Didier’s hard-core supporters from the tea party movement, but he’ll signal to some other folks – those who might think many GOP incumbents are pretty good Republicans – they’ve got no place in the party.
If one stays around politics long enough, one will see things flip 180 degrees. Case in point, the suggestion that if a candidate for the U.S. Senate holds a fundraiser on Sept. 11, it is a crass move that shows a lack of feeling for the sanctity of lives lost to terrorism in 2001.
Thus was it labeled in 2003 by conservatives when Murray held a fundraiser on the second anniversary of the attacks. “Says a great deal about Sen. Murray’s judgment and priorities,” huffed then state GOP Chairman Chris Vance. Some members of the conservative blogosphere thundered their opprobrium.
Republicans offered no such condemnation, however, for Rossi’s “Let’s Roll on to Victory” fundraiser on Saturday in Tacoma. Not surprisingly, the other side did. Liberal blogger David Goldstein of Horse’s Ass suggested Rossi’s event will “cheapen the memory of the attack by expropriating it for political gain.”