Thursday, March 20, 2014

GOP roundup at Riverbend Ranch

Shaking hands with former presidential candidate Mitt Romney. (Photo by Melissa Bristol)
I typically steer clear of politics on BizMojo Idaho, but when I got an invitation to the Republican roundup Wednesday night at Frank and Belinda VanderSloot's Riverbend Ranch I figured, "Why not?"

This was a campaign event for U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, who is facing a primary challenge from Bryan Smith in nine weeks. Gov. Butch Otter, who also faces a primary challenge, was there, as was U.S. Sen. Jim Risch. But the real star of this GOP cattle call was 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, on hand to encourage the faithful to open their checkbooks.

"Dig deep," he said. "Vote, and get your friends to vote. I'm not elected these days, but I can sure fight hard."

Perhaps the most passionate words of the evening came from the host himself, Frank VanderSloot, making his introduction and seeking to refute any suggestion that Simpson might not be conservative enough to serve in Congress.

"I don't know what the litmus test is for a conservative anymore," he said. Simpson has A+ ratings from the National Rifle Association, Right to Life and the United States Chamber of Commerce (on whose board of directors VanderSloot sits). Were Simpson to lose the primary, it would mean at best a loss of clout in the House, because of Simpson's seniority, and at worst the loss of the seat altogether. "If Mike doesn't win, we're likely to have a Democrat in Congress," he said, casting a momentary chill over an otherwise upbeat program.

Romney was his affable self, giving liberals the benefit of being fine Americans, just misguided. "We're right and they're wrong," he said, quoting President Reagan's answer to a question about the difference between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.

Otter showed his usual reverence to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, but could someone please tell him that George Washington's name has only one R in it?

During the meet and greet that followed I shook Governor Romney's hand, because I do agree that we're all American's and that we can be friends with each other. Having lost an election myself, I could relate to some of the things he said.