Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) was basking in the national spotlight of delivering the GOP’s response to President Obama’s weekly radio and internet address July 27, while the man whose job he wants, Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.), was reeling from charges of plagiarizing a healthy portion of his U.S. Army War College master’s thesis.
The contest has never been a contest, although Walsh did pull closer to Daines just before the plagiarism scandal broke July 23.
Daines is slaughtering Walsh in the polls. The latest survey of likely Montana voters from Public Policy Polling, which leans toward Democrats, has the Republican leading by 7 points. The Republican-friendly Rasmussen Reports has Daines in the lead by 18 points.
Still, Daines used his national broadcast opportunity July 27 to pile on, attacking President Obama and Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), while calling for massive change in the Senate, which of course would include putting him in Walsh’s office.
Daines also used the five-minute speech to blast what the Environmental Protection Agency calls its Clean Power Plan, and Daines and his fellow Republicans have branded as a “War on Coal.”
Daines opened his charge on Capitol Hill and the Oval Office by talking about how he grew up in Bozeman, watching his parents build their business from the ground up as they taught him the value of hard work and personal responsibility.
Daines said that “stands in stark contrast to what we are seeing in Washington today.”
Washington has “become a town that promotes all the wrong behavior and all the wrong people at the expense of the hard-working taxpayer,” said Daines.
He blamed Obama administration policies, championed in the Senate by Harry Reid. Daines said he believes President Obama is waging a war on the middle class and Sen. Reid is fully complicit by carrying out the Oval Office agenda.
“It’s no accident that Washington, D.C., has emerged from the recession better than any other region of the country,” Daines continued. “Personal gain comes first. We the people come last.”
Daines effortlessly segued from his opening assault on the morals and characters of Democratic Party leadership to one of his favorite battlegrounds — the War on Coal — by arguing that Obama and Harry Reid had imposed “job-killing regulations on the industries that hold the most hope for our economic future.”
Daines has challenged Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to visit Montana to find out how the EPA’s Clean Power Plan proposal would hurt middle-class families.
“In Montana we have seen first-hand the potential that our energy sector holds for lowering utility costs for hard-working middle-class families, to revitalize the economies on our Indian reservations and to support thousands of good-paying union jobs,” he said.
“Yet President Obama has spearheaded a war on American energy that not only stands in the way of the potential, it works to reverse it.”
Daines challenged McCarthy to visit Colstrip, Mont. In the GOP response to the president’s radio and internet address, Montana’s congressman who would be senator focused on the Crow Indian Reservation.
Three-quarters of the Crow tribe’s 10,000 or more enrolled members live on the 2.2 million acre reservation in Montana, about 10 miles from Billings, according to the Montana Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs. Eighty-five percent of them speak Crow as their first language.
Coal is the economy of the Crow Nation. Huge coal deposits are under the eastern portion of the reservation. One mine is in operation, according to the Office of Indian Affairs. Other than that, the tribe maintains a herd of about 300 head of buffalo and does a small amount of farming.
Daines said the Crow Indian Reservation depends on some of the richest coal reserves in Montana. But he complained the Obama administration’s “war on coal” is standing in the way of the ability of the Crow people’s ability to develop their resources and reap the economic benefits that are so badly needed on the reservation.
Daines said he met with Darrin Old Coyote, the chairman of the Crow Nation, who told him, “A war on coal is a war on the Crow people of Montana.”
The EPA’s Clean Power plan, which would reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants but cut back on fossil fuels like coal, would cripple the Crow Nation, said Daines.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to grow the economy and create good paying jobs through the responsible development of our nation’s natural resources,” said Daines. “But rather than working toward solutions, the president and Senate have maintained their roadblocks.”
Walsh has not taken a firm position on the EPA Clean Power Plan. But he did recognize the importance of the coal industry to the Crow Nation in a speech on the floor of the Senate on July 11, calling for approval of the Indian Coal Production Tax Credit.
“Political brinksmanship has won out at the expense of good paying jobs and certainty for millions of American businesses and taxpayers,” he said. “The Crow Nation in southeast Montana relies on this tax credit to drive their economy. Like many of our tribal nations, they suffer from a much higher unemployment rate than the rest of the country, and that is unacceptable.”
However, the plagiarism scandal has been the tsunami that has wrecked the Walsh campaign. The Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune called the plagiarism rampant in Walsh’s master’s thesis “reprehensible” in a July 26 editorial.
The Tribune editorial board also wrote the only reason Montana Democrats are standing by Walsh is that they have no other viable candidate to replace him.
That means the horse race is over, according to the Tribune. The editorial board wrote, “(Daines) will have an easy gallop en route to winning the Nov. 4 general election contest.”
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