Last night, on the eve of President Obama's visit to Seattle, Republicans held a hastily-arranged rally at Westlake Center to attack the president and the U.S. Senator he is here to support: Patty Murray, dubbed "Pork Patty" by those in the small crowd. "The people will no longer be your ATM machine," announced Clint Didier, one of Murray's GOP challengers.
But it's Didier's attacks on his higher-profile Republican rival, Dino Rossi, that have many party members buzzing of late.In the run-up to today's primary, Didier and his supporters have been insinuating that Rossi is soft on abortion. Didier, an Eastern Washington farmer and tea party favorite, has pointedly declared that he believes in life from "cradle to grave." In other words, he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Rossi, although attacked on the left for his general opposition to abortion, has said he does support exceptions in such cases. Those calibrations have been grist for an anti-Rossi video put out by a group called the Washington Life Coalition, said to be aligned with Didier.
More recently, the group has disseminated information accusing Rossi of supporting what it portrays as pro-abortion legislation while he was a senator in Olympia. According to the organization's website, the bill in question--passed in 2002--requires hospitals to offer morning-after pills to women who are raped.
Prominent conservative pastor Joe Fuiten, a Rossi supporter, late last week devoted an issue of his online newsletter to defending his candidate's anti-abortion record. The head of Bothell's Cedar Park Church pointed out that three Catholic bishops had okayed the bill.
Fuiten, who linked the accusations to the Didier camp, lashed out at what he called the "the politically self-serving effort to misrepresent Rossi's record in Olympia."
Tonight's primary results might give us some indication of whether these last minute attacks on Rossi have had any affect. Yet even if Rossi makes it through to the general election, as expected, some Republicans worry that the accusations against him will dampen enthusiasm for the candidate come November.