Earlier we summarized the situation that has been brewing the last couple of days. Perhaps it’s time to delve deeper into what the dueling campaigns are saying through their respective press releases.
But first a brief chronology of events. And there are going to be lots of links to the relevant documents in full, so that readers can make up their own minds. Follow the links to get the whole story (so far).
This is going to take awhile, so read more after the jump.
July 29, 2007
The Brownback campaign contacts the Huckabee campaign, privately, via email about a “disgusting” email forwarded to them by a “key evangelical pastor in Ames,” Iowa. It appeared to Brownback’s people to be part of a “whisper campaign.” Apparently there was no response from the Huckabee campaign.
July 31, 2007
The email, sent by a Huckabee supporter, goes public. It is available in full over at Marc Ambinder’s blog.
Confirmation that Pastor Tim Rude sent the email is over at Deal W. Hudson’s blog.
The Catholic League found out about the email and issued a press release including a statement by its president, Bill Donohue. Needless to say, Donohue was not pleased.
That evening (7:30 pm), the Huckabee campaign issued a statement, via email, basically saying that Huck was “glad that Rev. Rude issued an apology and clarification for his comments,” but not much more.
A couple of hours later (9:58 pm), the Brownback campaign responded with an email of its own, noting an evasion of what it considered to be the central issue: “Does Governor Huckabee denounce Pastor Rude’s anti-Catholic comments, or not?” John Ranklin also pointed out that Pastor Rude’s apology seemed more along the lines that he was sorry that the email was made public, not so much about what was actually said.
Ranklin summarized the “apology” this way:
“Pastor Rude’s ‘apology’ might be an admission that he offended people, but it is certainly not an apology or recognition of the bigoted substance of his remarks.”
With the critical August 11th Ames straw poll fast approaching, things were beginning to get out of hand. The battle of the press releases was about to begin.
August 1, 2007
Brownback Press Release: Will Huckabee Denounce Anti-Catholic Email?
Huckabee volunteer writes email appealing to anti-Catholic prejudice
This press release, by John Ranklin, contains a summary of the issue: Rude’s email and ‘tepid apology,’ including Rude’s clumsy statement that “all I was trying to say is that Protestants should vote for Protestants.” It also includes a request that Governor Huckabee denounce the content of the “anti-Catholic” email that “attacked Senator Brownback’s faith in an attempt to demoralize his supporters.”
“Why is Governor Huckabee hesitating to denounce the anti-Catholic comments from his supporter, Pastor Tim Rude? It is hard to imagine that Governor Huckabee thinks Pastor Tim Rude’s prejudiced tactics are acceptable,” said John Rankin, Iowa communications director of Brownback for President.
August 2, 2007
Huckabee Press Release: Huckabee Campaign Manager Speaks out Against Attacks from Brownback Campaign
In this press release, Chip Saltzman fires back angrily at the Brownback campaign essentially refusing to denounce Pastor Rude’s efforts and the content of his email.
“It’s time for Sam Brownback to stop whining and start showing some of the Christian character he seems to always find lacking in others.”
Huckabee’s Campaign Manager also asserts that “For Brownback to claim that the Governor ‘owes him an apology’ is nonsense….” This is interesting since I have not found that claim (but I will continue looking for it), that Brownback was fishing for an apology from Huckabee. It was more along the lines of denouncing Pastor Rude’s tactics and the content of his email.
Saltzman also states that “The Governor strongly disavowed the statement,” which is fine, although that wasn’t the issue. The Brownback campaign clearly wanted a condemnation, not a disavowal of responsibility. Finally Chip added “We don’t condone or support attacks on people for their faith.” Yes, Mr. Saltzman, but it doesn’t seem like you are willing to condemn those attacks either.
The press release seemed to dance around the issue rather like Pastor Rude had two days earlier with his “I’m sorry I got caught” non-apology apology. But then Saltzman also poured fuel on the fire and rubbed salt into the wound by not only refusing to condemn the email, but also by metaphorically sneering at the Brownback campaign and Sam Brownback himself. Every word drips with mockery and derision.
Brownback Press Release: Huckabee Campaign Was Unresponsive to Initial Requests to Stop Bigotry
Brownback campaign attempted to resolve the issue privately
This press release can be summed up very simply: “The Huckabee campaign’s response lacked a clear denunciation of the offensive contents of the email.”
And the campaign can’t resist but to jab back: “The Huckabee campaign’s hysterical response is an effort to distract Iowa conservatives from Huckabee’s record of tax increases, big government and the pardoning of violent criminals.”
The contents of an email sent to the Huckabee campaign on July 29, 2007, two days before Rude’s email became public are appended to this response. By way of introduction before attaching the text of Pastor Rude’s email is this:
Chip, earlier this afternoon, this was fwded to us by a key evangelical pastor in Ames. I don’t know if the author is officially aligned with your campaign in some capacity, but this is disgusting. We’ve been picking up on a whisper campaign anecdotally from some of our evangelical supporters.
Can we count on you guys to put an end to this trash on your end?
When you compare the tones of the respective press releases, the Huckabee campaign’s seems the most angry and vicious. Read them for yourself and I suspect that no matter who you support, the contrast is clear. Important issue or not, the Brownback campaign’s communications team seems the more professional of the two.
It appears that neither side wants to back down. In a nutshell, here’s where things stand:
- The author of the email, Pastor Tim Rude who sent the “anti-Catholic” emails to Brownback supporters, apologized, sort of. He did seem sorry about his email becoming public. That much is clear.
- The Brownback campaign wants the Huckabee campaign to denounce the tactic and the email’s contents.
- The Huckabee campaign scoffed at apologizing to Sam Brownback for Pastor Rude’s email, not condoning it, but not denouncing it either.
- The Brownback campaign has reiterated its request that the Huckabee campaign issue a “clear denunciation” of the email and intervene to stop what it called an “anti-Catholic whisper campaign.”
It would appear to be the Huckabee campaign’s move. Another press release, perhaps? Or will they simply ignore the issue, hoping it will go away. I’m not so sure the Brownback campaign is willing to let this go just yet.
Both campaigns are getting press coverage out of this, and that may be helpful as the Ames straw poll draws near, but will either get public sympathy or emerge a victor? That remains to be seen. It ain’t over yet.
Update: Did Pastor Rude jeopardize his church’s tax-exempt status?