Indiana Republican Dan Coats, who is hoping to replace Evan Bayh, held a bloggers call yesterday afternoon. In his opening remarks, it was evident that he got Tuesday’s message loud and clear. He said his opponent, Brad Ellsworth, “voted with Pelosi and Obama virtually all the time,” especially on key measures like health-care reform and the stimulus bill. Although Ellsworth bills himself as pro-life, Coats noted that he caved along with Bart Stupak on the key ObamaCare vote. (Watch for other Republicans running against self-styled but weak-kneed pro-life Democrats to note the same.) And then he made a point about Ellsworth that all Republican challengers will make in November: “I’m the challenger; he’s the incumbent.” This year, these are fighting words.
I asked him about Richard Blumenthal. The usually mild-mannered Coats swung hard, declaring, “I think if there is ever a time when people have a distrust [of government] … it is now. When someone falsifies his record … it calls into question all that.”
I asked him about the Iran sanctions deal. Unlike the cowering, Obama-addicted American Jewish leaders, Coats was forceful in his objection. He explained that “unless sanctions are truly biting and timely, they aren’t going to slow Iran” from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. The UN sanctions, Coats says, are “too little, too late” and “our dillydallying over the last year and a half has allowed [the mullahs] to go forward [with their nuclear program].” That too, I suspect, will be a powerful issue in the fall campaign.