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Crawford: Don’t write Broun off too quickly

POSTED: February 13, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Paul Broun made it official last week by announcing he will run for Saxby Chambliss’ Senate seat in 2014. The outspoken congressman and biblical scholar is already placing ads on political websites as he gets his campaign under way.

Some of my journalistic friends are declaring that Broun’s ultraconservative views are too extreme for Georgia and he has no chance of staging a credible race for the Senate. I think they write him off at their peril. Broun has proven at least twice that he’s capable of taking on the establishment candidate and winning.

Regardless of how Broun performs in the Republican primary, he guarantees it will be one of the most entertaining political campaigns this state has seen in a long time.

There are many words you could use to describe Broun, but two that would never apply to him are “bland” and “boring.” He is the kind of politician for whom the word “colorful” was invented.

Let’s take a quick stroll down memory lane, shall we?

In 2008, shortly after Barack Obama was elected president, Broun said this about Obama’s proposal to establish a national service corps: “That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany, and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.”

More recently, Broun told a reporter: “I think the only constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution, not this one. He has no concept of this one, though he claimed to be a constitutional lawyer.”

I’ll leave it to my readers to figure out how a president can be a Nazi and a Marxist at the same time. My brain isn’t capable of handling that calculation.

In 2009, Broun continued to express concerns that Obama was setting up a dictatorship: “He has the three things that are necessary to establish an authoritarian government (referring to a national police force, gun control and control over the press). And so we need to be ever-vigilant, because freedom is precious.”

During a town hall meeting in 2011, one of Broun’s constituents posed the question: “Who is going to shoot Obama?”

Broun was sympathetic to the call for an assassination.

“The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president,” he replied. “We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president ... who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, more than 100,000 people have viewed a videotape of Broun telling a church meeting last fall: “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

Broun undoubtedly will continue to make colorful comments like those in the upcoming primary.

He will be running against Republicans who could include such figures as Tom Price, Jack Kingston, Phil Gingrey, Herman Cain or Tom Graves.

To hold off someone like Broun in a primary dominated by tea party voters, the other candidates are going to have to position themselves as being even more conservative. They will have to figure out how they can get to the right of Broun — which is no easy task.

You can bet that the GOP primary will feature a never-ending series of outrageous remarks and explosive allegations from candidates who are all trying to prove that they, and not Broun, are the “true conservative” in the race.

This means that the eventual Republican nominee is either going to be Broun, or someone whose expressed views are so similar to Broun’s that it really doesn’t make any difference.

Even if Broun loses, he will have pushed the Republican field so far to the right that he’s really the winner. There are some establishment Republicans like Karl Rove who are upset by that possibility, but I don’t think Broun will lose a minute of sleep over it.

Tom Crawford is editor of The Georgia Report. His column appears Wednesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com.


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