Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012, at 10:05 AM
The RNC is in deep, requited love with this clip from last night's debate for the old Gabby Giffords seat. Ron Barber, the Giffords staffer trying to replace her (for a few months), has been trying to stay out of anything resembling a left-right spat. Jesse Kelly, the guy who lost to Giffords in 2010 -- you probably heard about his AK-47-themed fundraiser -- asks Barber who he'll choose for president. Barber whiffs.
It's at least declarative! If you've got to whiff, whiff with convention. Barber's problem is that he's trying to portray Kelly as a dangerous, ideological, Tea Party lunatic, and himself as a slave to no party.
Practically, there's little Barber can do to further the Obama agenda. If he wins he'll serve for a few months, in a historically lazy period for an outgoing Congress, then he'll serve in the lame duck. (Redistricting has chopped up this district.) Same goes for Kelly. But Kelly has to make the race about raw partisanship, in a district that tilts Republican.
UPDATE: Barber's campaign releases a statement from spokeswoman Jessica Schultz:
Ron’s point last night was that the election on June 12 isn't about president Obama, or any other national figure--it's about who is going to do the best job fighting for middle class families in southern Arizona. While Ron does not agree with the President on everything, of course Ron has supported and will support President Obama in the election. His primary focus as a member of Congress will be standing up for Southern Arizonans