Richard Viguerie: Loss of Hastert Seat is Proof Conservatives are Prepared to Sit Out This Year's Elections
Contact: Bob Sturm, 703-396-6974; after 6 PM Eastern, Vi Shields or Bob Sturm, 703-906-6542, 703-307-8176
MANASSAS, Va., March 10 /Christian Newswire/ -- Republicans' loss of the House seat held for two decades by former Speaker Dennis Hastert is "proof that conservatives are prepared to sit out the 2008 elections," Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, said.
"Instead of contributing and volunteering, conservatives are closing their checkbooks and staying home. Liberals and Democrats are enthusiastic to a degree not seen in decades, and grassroots conservatives are sitting on their hands," Viguerie said.
"This is a wakeup call for John McCain. Since securing the nomination, he has done nothing significant to reach out to the conservatives who provide the vast majority of the volunteers for the Republican Party in every election. Senator McCain, and all the candidates on the ballot with him, will pay the price in November."
In fact, Viguerie said, "The farther we go down this road, the longer it will take to repair the relationship between conservatives and the Republican Party. The damage that's being done now will affect the party for years to come."
In the race for the Hastert seat, the Republican nominee, Jim Oberweis – the handpicked choice of the GOP Establishment – reportedly had difficulty getting enough volunteers. The Chicago Tribune reported that, when the primary runner-up, conservative State Senator Chris Lauzen, declined to endorse Oberweis, "his decision not to endorse Oberweis sidelined a potent grassroots organization that could have helped the Republican candidate."
So strapped for volunteers was the Oberweis campaign that, according to the newspaper The Hill, Republicans turned to congressional interns in Washington to make calls for Oberweis.
The defeat shows that the Republican Party's current political strategy is fundamentally flawed. Said Viguerie: "Rather than running on the issues, Republican leaders continue to try to buy elections by earmarking and pork-barreling and special-interest spending, by using taxpayers' own money to try to buy elections."
Viguerie noted a Hastert aide's comment regarding the billions of taxpayers' dollars he was willing to spend to save the seat of Representative Claw Shaw in 2000. "We knew" the control of the House "could come down to two seats," a Hastert aide recalled, "and if that meant we had to spend $8 billion for Mr. Shaw, that's what we were going to do."
"The more earmarks, the angrier conservatives get. They see Republican leaders corruptly, immorally spending our children's and grandchildren's inheritance, trying to buy elections. And they're fed up.
"Pork barrel spending," Viguerie said, "has turned to ashes in the mouths of the Republican leadership."
NOTE TO EDITORS: Richard A. Viguerie pioneered political direct mail and has been called "one of the creators of the modern conservative movement" (The Nation magazine) and one of the "conservatives of the century" (The Washington Times). His latest book is Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big-Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause (Bonus Books, 2006).