Running Scared?

Remember Richard Mourdock?  He’s the Tea Party candidate who beat veteran Sen. Richard Lugar in the Indiana GOP senate primary by running far to the right of the conservative incumbent. He accused the longtime chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations of having committed the mortal sin of bipartisanship. The first words from the victorious Mourdock were to swear off all compromise and to reject any and all cooperation with the Democrats.  He said he was going to Washington – already assuming victory in November – to enact an extreme conservative agenda and the only bipartisanship he would tolerate was letting Democrats vote his way.

That was then and this is now.  Mourdock, apparently losing some of that cocky confidence, is now telling voters he would “work with anyone,” the New York Times reported.

Several other Republicans who had vowed to follow the lead of the Tea Party adherents in the current Congress by rejecting any form of compromise with Democrats seem to be having second thoughts as their races tighten.

Ditto a number of the GOP incumbents who are trying to run away from their ultra-conservative Tea Party record in the 112th Congress, which is about as popular as a mother-in-law on your honeymoon. Now they’re trying to fool voters into thinking they’re regular cross-aisle commuters.

These include GOP Reps. John Runyan of New Jersey, Bobby Schilling and Robert Dold of Illinois, Nan Hayworth of New York,  Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland, Richard Berg of North Dakota, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Scott Rigell of Virginia.

Why the sudden change of heart about what was once forbidden?  They must have read the latest New York Times/CBS News poll showing that 44 percent of Americans blame Republicans for gridlock in Washington, compared with 29 percent who blame President Obama and the Democrats.

Former Virginia Sen. George Allen is so desperate to get back to the Senate he has tried portraying himself as so bipartisan that he once worked with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton. Imagine that.  His opponent, Democrat Tim Kaine, likes to remind voters what Allen really thinks by replaying a statement he made to the 1994 Virginia Republican Convention, when he said of Democrats, “Let’s enjoy knocking their soft teeth down their whining throats.”

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.