Say My Name
Senator Judd Gregg showed up on MSNBC’s Hardball earlier this evening to talk health care, but the most interesting exchange with host Chris Matthews came in the interview’s final minute, when Matthews suggested that by retiring now, Gregg was essentially handing his U.S. Senate seat to the Democratic Party. You can watch the entire interview here (Gregg follows California Senator Barbara Boxer).
Gregg seemed caught a little off guard, but did his best to sound bullish on his party’s chances of keeping the seat in November 2010. What really grabbed my attention, however, was Gregg’s comment that the party already has one very strong candidate, but then for some reason he didn’t name Kelly Ayotte, to whom he was obviously referring. It made me wonder whether Gregg was reflexively pulling his punches a bit, in response to the recent editorial in the Union Leader suggesting that Republican elites in Washington are tugging too hard on Ayotte and 1st Congressional District candidate Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta.
I will say that on the intended topic of health care reform Gregg sounded like the picture of moderation in comparison to some of the conservative vitriol now being directed at President Obama. He even took a firm step away from the culture war critique of the Obama Administration’s plans (it’s really euthanasia, federally-funded abortions, etc.), and instead presented traditional fiscal arguments about the unsustainability of large long-term deficits.
And, when given a chance by Matthews to attack Obama for trying to put the country on a path to nationalized health care, Gregg let the softball float by and instead focused his criticism on old-line liberals like Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. So, given how critical Gregg has been of the president recently, his appearance this evening struck me as being a bit more subdued than one might have expected.

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