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Sunday, August 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: Nethercutt weighs in on presidential candidates

With presidential candidates making their quadrennial stops in the Inland Northwest ahead of the caucuses, Republican voters might be wondering how to pick among the four remaining candidates.

After all, none of the four has very strong connections to the region, or has spent much time in the area when not on the campaign trail. And some haven’t made even so much as a pit stop here yet.

Spin Control decided to get some insight from one fairly well-known Republican who served with at least three of the four would-be nominees. Former Rep. George Nethercutt was elected to the House in the historic GOP takeover engineered by Newt Gingrich and served with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul during his six years there.

So who’s he backing? Mitt Romney, the guy he knows least. In an interview last week, Nethercutt was most emphatically not supporting Gingrich, whom he described as smart but prickly, a poor administrator and not well-suited to the job of president.

“He’s just all over the place,” Nethercutt said, recalling times when House Republicans would hear a Gingrich strategy in the morning caucus meeting, then call back in the afternoon to find out it had completely changed. “You can be all over the place as speaker of the House; as president, you can’t. You don’t have that luxury.”

Nethercutt doesn’t remember the Gingrich speakership in the same glowing terms that Gingrich describes it. “I remember Newt not having the support of his own team. People were ready for him to leave the stage.”

Paul and Nethercutt served in the House for four years, and he remembers the Texas congressman as having some interesting ideas and some odd ones but that he voted no on most legislation.

“I think his bad ideas cancel out his good ones,” Nethercutt said.

Santorum was in the Senate when Nethercutt was in the House, and they only crossed paths a few times. But Nethercutt wonders if Santorum isn’t so rigid on some public policy issues that he won’t do well in the general elections.

He was pulling for Mitch Daniels until the Indiana governor said he wouldn’t run. So he’s backing Romney for his administrative and business experience. “I want to ride a horse that can go all the way.”

Other well-known Republicans backing Romney include Nethercutt’s replacement, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and former gubernatorial and Senate candidate Dino Rossi.

Backing Paul

But not all the recognizable Republicans are on the Romney wagon. Ron Paul has endorsements from state Rep. Matt Shea, of Spokane Valley, Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase, former Senate candidate Clint Didier and former state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders.

OK, so Sanders isn’t technically a Republican; that office is nonpartisan. But he’s always had a lot of GOP supporters in his runs.

Romney’s son coming Tuesday

Mitt Romney doesn’t have a campaign stop in the Inland Northwest yet, but one of his sons, Josh, is attending a campaign meet and greet, plus caucus training, at 12:15 Tuesday at Center Place in Spokane Valley.

Update on specialty plates

On Friday, the state House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring Japanese-American internees and the Japanese-Americans who volunteered and served in World War II even though their country was holding their families in concentration camps. The resolution, and the half-hour or so of speeches in support of it, coincided with the 70th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s signing of the executive order allowing the roundup of those citizens.

Earlier this year, the Senate had a bill to honor internees by making them eligible for the state’s special Prisoner of War license plates. Senate Transportation Committee members thought maybe they should consider a separate plate with similar benefits but never came up with a new version to vote out of committee. So it’s dead.

On the other hand, the committee did move, and the Senate last week approved, new specialty license plates for the state flower and the National Rifle Association. They’ve moved on to the House.

Spin Control, a weekly column by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items, reader comments and videos at

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