Michi­gan con­gress­man mulls pres­i­den­tial run

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY AN­DREA BILLUPS

LANS­ING, MICH. | Eyeing a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial field that is al­ready packed with long shots and boasts a front-run­ner who was also born in Detroit, Rep. Thad­deus G. McCot­ter is still mulling an un­likely run for the Oval Of­fice.

The fifth-term law­maker said he has not ruled out join­ing the al­ready crowded GOP pres­i­den­tial field, hop­ing to be the first House mem­ber to go di­rectly to the White House since 1880. The field of ri­vals grew by one June 21 when for­mer Utah Gov. Jon Hunts­man Jr. for­mally en­tered the race.

De­spite some open doubts about the vi­a­bil­ity of a McCot­ter cam­paign, the con­gress­man planned a trip to meet with tea party ac­tivists in Iowa, which holds the first party cau­cuses, and aides are in no rush to shoot down the cam­paign trial bal­loon.

“We have noth­ing new to re­port this week,” a press aide said June 20 , af­ter Mr. McCot­ter’s busy week­end speak­ing to the RightOn­line gather­ing in Min­neapo­lis, where he drew a stand­ing ova­tion, and later to the Repub­li­can Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence in New Or­leans, where he came in last in a straw poll.

Mr. McCot­ter lacks the mar­quee name that some ri­vals can boast, but he is not afraid to mix it up rhetor­i­cally; he called out for­mer Mas­sachusetts gov­er­nor and fel­low Michi­gan­der Mitt Rom­ney for his com­ments on the auto bailout dur­ing a cam­paign swing here and then panned the per­for­mance of Repub­li­can hope­fuls at this month’s New Hamp­shire de­bate.

Vot­ers “have to hear an hon­est dif­fer­ence of opin­ion, rather than sim­ply talk about what you may wish to do or why Pres­i­dent Obama does what he does. You also have to make dis­tinc­tions within a pri­mary be­tween your­selves and the oth­ers,” he told ABC News in a re­view of the de­bate.

The 45-year-old Mr. McCot­ter, who rep­re­sents Michi­gan’s 11th District, is a lawyer who first joined Congress in 2003 af­ter years in the state Se­nate. He rep­re­sents the Livo­nia area of Detroit, and is a rock gui­tarist for the con­gres­sional pickup band, the Sec­ond Amend­ments. The deeply Catholic fa­ther of three also is the au­thor of “Seize Free­dom! Amer­i­can Truths and Re­newal in a Chaotic Age.”

His Twit­ter bi­og­ra­phy cheek­ily de­scribes Mr. McCot­ter as an “ugly-sweater maven,” and he has won a fol­low­ing among younger con­ser­va­tives for his staunch anti-big gov­ern­ment stances, in­clud­ing op­po­si­tion to Pres­i­dent Obama’s health care law.

While some blog posters have taken jabs at his bald­ing coun­te­nance, one call­ing him Ich­a­bod Crane, his Mid­west bravado has also caught the eye of con­ser­va­tives who say they are un­der­whelmed by the cur­rent Repub­li­can field and fear­ful of the party’s chances of un­seat­ing a vul­ner­a­ble Mr. Obama in 2012.

“In my mind, he’s one of the few pols who seem less in­ter­ested in im­press­ing celebri­ties or mak­ing cheap points of sen­ti­men­tal­ity than pre­serv­ing the free­doms unique to our de­light­ful is­land nation,” wrote Greg Gut­field of Fox News’ “Red Eye,” who has en­cour­aged Mr. McCot­ter to run.

But GOP po­lit­i­cal strate­gist Cheri Jacobus said Mr. McCot­ter’s chances are slim.

“McCot­ter will have a tough time break­ing through as he is a rel­a­tive un­known, even among staunch GOP ac­tivists,” she said. “His chal­lenge would be to draw a clear dis­tinc­tion be­tween him- self and the rest of the field, not to men­tion the fundrais­ing catch­ing up he’d have to do, which would be a small mir­a­cle in and of it­self.”

State po­lit­i­cal watch­ers has spec­u­lated that Mr. McCot­ter’s log­i­cal next step would be to chal­lenge Demo­cratic Sen. Deb­bie Stabenow next year, but Mr. McCot­ter said in May that he would not mount a Se­nate cam­paign.

His flir­ta­tion with a White House run, how­ever, could also put him in play as a strong con­ser­va­tive vice pres­i­den­tial run­ning mate to the even­tual GOP nom­i­nee.

David Wasser­man, who fol­lows House races for the Cook Po­lit­i­cal Re­port, said Mr. McCot­ter’s pres­i­den­tial chances are highly un­likely at this point.

“For a con­gress­man from the Detroit area and for a very con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can on most is­sues, there are very lim­ited op­tions,” he said. “Repub­li­cans haven’t bro­ken through at the Se­nate level in Michi­gan. There is a Repub­li­can gov­er­nor there at the mo­ment. McCot­ter clearly wants a big­ger pres­ence on the na­tional Repub­li­can stage and there are very few op­tions be­side float­ing a can­di­dacy for pres­i­dent.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Think­ing about it: Rep. Thad­deus G. McCot­ter, Michi­gan Repub­li­can

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