Like Democrat Mark Critz did in the PA-12 special election last week, Congressman Joe Sestak is steadily trying to run away from this administration’s liberal policies by painting himself as an outsider, in spite of his near-100% support of President Obama’s agenda:
[NBC's] MR. [DAVID] GREGORY: Congressman, you sound like the ultimate outsider. The only problem is you are a congressman. OK? You were running against the establishment.
REP. SESTAK: Ah.
MR. GREGORY: You voted for TARP, for the bailout. You voted for the president’s stimulus plan. You voted for the president’s healthcare plan. Exactly which establishment are you not part of, that you’re running against?
REP. SESTAK: You know, I–31 years in the Navy, as you know, when I came to Washington, I was kind of taken aback that that type of accountability that I’d learned from my actions in the U.S. Navy seemed to be absent down here in Washington, D.C. Look, somebody had torpedoed our economy. We were sinking. We had to caulk the holes. We were hemorrhaging jobs. It’s not about big government or small government, it’s about effective government. Somebody took the referee off the football field up there on Wall Street, they let them play roulette with the savings of the seniors in my district. I sit there, and to what is to Wall Street a market correction now means young couples can’t afford to send their children to education. I ran about accountability for one’s actions, and I think that’s not…
MR. GREGORY: But, Congressman…
REP. SESTAK: …pretty absent down here.
MR. GREGORY: Congressman, the question I asked you is you have supported all the major elements of the Obama agenda.
REP. SESTAK: Yes.
MR. GREGORY: And yet you, in that sound bite, were running as an outsider. Are you not part of the establishment that you are railing against?
REP. SESTAK: Oh, I did vote for those because they were needed. But as John F. Kennedy once said, sometimes the party asks too much. And when they did something that I didn’t agree with because it didn’t help Pennsylvania working families, I’ll stand up to the party. That’s what I did. It doesn’t mean whether you’re part of an establishment or not. It’s whether you stand up for what’s right.
MR. GREGORY: Well, which, which element of the Obama agenda that was his priority did you stand up to?
REP. SESTAK: Oh, I did–I honestly think that this president has done great, good things. But I don’t think we’ve gone far enough in terms of helping small business. My party has to recognize business is a good word when you have small in front of it. And to give a 15 percent tax credit to small businesses for every new payroll job that’s created, we could, according to Economic Institute, soak up five million of the eight and a half million unemployed in two, two and a half years. In short, we need to do even better than what we’ve done. And as was mentioned earlier, the market’s good. There’s really good private markets out there. We just need fair rules. And before the rules kind of favored Wall Street, not those in state.
MR. GREGORY: Are you–would you like to see more tax cuts, is that what you’re suggesting?
REP. SESTAK: For the small businesses, without a question. Look, for far too long, like the Senate did, they literally voted that large corporations that invest in a foreign factory get a tax credit. On Wall Street they said, “Forget about any rules out there, go ahead and gamble.” So what I’m for is for effective government. And there should–if there are going to be tax credits, and I do believe in them, they should be where the majority of Pennsylvanians work. The majority of them work in small business.
MR. GREGORY: But…
REP. SESTAK: That’s the real engine of the economy.
MR. GREGORY: All right. But, Congressman, you’re a Democrat, and I fully expect that you will campaign for the Obama agenda come the fall. Is that your plan?
REP. SESTAK: I’m campaigning for whatever is needed to take care of the working families of Pennsylvania. I would like President Obama’s support, and he said in his phone call to me, yes. But at the end of the day, I ran because I didn’t agree with a deal that was made that I didn’t think would help Pennsylvania over the next six years. I respect the establishment, but when they’re wrong I think you have to stand up and say…
MR. GREGORY: Right. But what you stood up to was your opponent, which is not terribly courageous given that that’s what you do in politics. What I’m asking is whether you are an Obama Democrat who supported stimulus, who supported health care, who’s with him on all the major elements of his agenda. Are you or are you not an Obama Democrat?
REP. SESTAK: I’ve always described–I’ve always described myself as an independent-thinking person who believes in Democratic principles. Those are the same principles this president believes in. But if I think they’re doing something that isn’t right in accordance with the principles that help, help families in Pennsylvania, I’ll stand up just like I did then. I’m a pretty pragmatic guy, you know. I come from the military, everybody has health care. And the dividends that accrue to our nation are immense. We don’t even, we don’t even promote you above a certain rating or rank unless you have an education, an associates college degree. I’d say pretty much those are kind of principles that give dividends to our nation. Imagine a work force that’s healthy and educated, that can compete with China and India. That’s the kind of focus and Democrat I am.
And about that mysterious job offer he received from the WH to clear the path for Arlen Specter in this year’s Senate race? He confirms it again but, as expected, he dodges and weaves on the details:
MR. GREGORY: What, what job were you offered to stay out of a primary race by the administration?
REP. SESTAK: It’s interesting. I was asked a question about something that happened months earlier, and I felt I should answer it honestly. And that’s all I had to say about it because anything beyond that gets away from what we just spoke about.
REP. SESTAK: What are the policies that are really going to help people who’ve been slammed by economy…
MR. GREGORY: All right, but you’ve campaigned on transparency. It’s part of the politics. You talked about standing up to the White House when they’d fielded a candidate–made a deal with Arlen Specter. So isn’t it in the–in the spirit of transparency, were you offered a job by the administration? And what was it?
REP. SESTAK: I learned, as I mentioned, about that personal accountability in the Navy.
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
REP. SESTAK: I felt I needed to answer that question honestly because I was personally accountable for my role in the matter.
MR. GREGORY: What’s the answer? What’s the job you were offered?
REP. SESTAK: And–but anybody else has to decide for themselves what to say upon their role, and that’s their responsibility.
MR. GREGORY: Yes or no, straightforward question. Were you, were you offered a job, and what was the job?
REP. SESTAK: I was offered a job, and I answered that.
MR. GREGORY: You said no, you wouldn’t take the job. Was it the secretary of the Navy?
REP. SESTAK: Right. And I also said, “Look, I’m getting into this…
MR. GREGORY: Was it the secretary of the Navy job?
REP. SESTAK: Anything that go–goes beyond that is others–for others to talk about.
Will be interesting to read/hear about how/if WH Spox Robert Fibbs is questioned about this issue at today’s WH press briefing.
In the meantime, Congresional whiner Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is making a show of demanding to know “the truth” behind the WH job offer to Sestak:
Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.) called on the White House on Monday to detail conversations it allegedly had with Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) to try to convince him to drop his Senate bid.
“I think what the White House should do is, to some degree, say, ‘Here are the facts,’ ” Weiner said Monday morning during an appearance on MSNBC. “If there’s not a lot [to] what’s going on here, then just say what happened.”
Republicans led by Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, have begun to ramp up pressure on the White House and Sestak, who originally made his allegation during his eventually successful primary challenge to Specter.
“When we’re having conversations like this three days after the nomination, that’s a problem,” said Weiner, who also expressed support for Sestak’s Senate campaign.
But the New York Democrat said the best way to do that was with some sort of release of information, which he said would bury the story.
“Someone has to help us out here, and I think the White House and Congressman Sestak need to make sure we’re not talking about this next week,” Weiner explained.
The article noted that Fibbs denied any hint of inappropriateness took place with the job offer, but Michelle Malkin – rightly – ain’t buyin’ his answer, nor Weiner’s grandstanding:
“Some sort of release of information.”
Translation: Some “sort of” illusion of meaningful disclosure to put the right-wing hounds at bay and kill the news momentum.
You know, like the bogus CBO reports released to help out the Dems before the passage of Obamacare.
That “sort of” thing.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the offices of Joe Sestak and the White House spin shop right now…
And, hey, if what the administration did with Sestak is a violation of federal law, why isn’t offering high-profile positions in the Obama administration in exchange for a vote against federal law, too? You know, kinda like what happened with ObamaCare in order to get it to pass?