Georgia Rep. Paul Broun is now trailing in his bid to be the Republican U.S. Senate nominee but he says voters who do their homework will realize he is the most reliable defender of the Constitution in the race and the best choice to defeat likely Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn in November.
The seven-way GOP battle is among the most watched primaries in the country. Early voting has already begun but most voters will head to the polls May 20. No candidate is expected to get a majority of the vote, in which case the top two finishers next week will head to a July 22 run-off.
Five candidates are considered to have the best odds, with recent polls suggesting businessman David Perdue, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and Rep. Jack Kingston bunched at the top. Rep. Broun and Rep. Phil Gingrey are a few points back.
Both Perdue and Handel have pounded away at the three members of Congress in the race, suggesting they are all part of the problem in Washington. Broun fiercely resists the label.
“It just shows that they don’t understand. And if they do understand, they’re trying to fool people about how I’ve been fighting to send power back to the states and to the people as the tenth amendment says it should be. I stand firm on the Constitution,” said Broun.
“All the problems that we see today, whether it’s Benghazi, the IRS targeting conservative and pro-life groups, whether it’s the NSA getting your phone records and mine and reading our emails which is totally unconstitutional…the unconstitutional executive orders that presidents of both parties have been doing, out of control spending, this debt that’s unsustainable, all of those are symptoms. The disease is an out of control government that’s left the powers that it has in the enumerated powers as the Constitution expresses them,” said Broun.
“What separates me from all the rest of (the candidates) is that I have a record. I’m fighting to send those powers back to the states and to the people and leave money in your pocket and everybody else’s,” he said.
While Broun says he is happy to compare his voting record in Congress against Kingston and Gingrey, Broun says one episode from the current Congress proves he is not a go along to get along guy in Washington.
“We had 20 of the most conservative members of the U.S. House that had signed a pledge to each other that we would not vote for John Boehner to be Speaker. John Boehner’s a nice guy. He’s got a great sun tan and I understand he plays a good game of golf, but I saw him making deals with Barack Obama that I couldn’t support, the stimulus package and bailouts and increasing the debt on us, as well as our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. I couldn’t support all those things and I knew we needed a different leader,” said Broun.
While Broun cast his ballot for former Florida Rep. Allen West, Boehner was re-elected.
“There were only 12 of us that upheld that pledge to each other. The other eight caved in because of the pressure from the leadership,” he said, noting voters can be assured he will stick to his principles. “I have sworn to uphold the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic. Out of control government and out of control spending are both enemies of the Constitution.”
Recent stories inside Georgia suggest that voters who identify with the tea party movement there like Broun’s positions virtually across the board. However, they fear those same positions and past comments, like calling evolution “a lie straight from the pit of Hell,” might make him difficult to elect statewide.
However, a recent NBC News/Marist College survey shows only two of the GOP candidates leading Nunn in a hypothetical matchup in November. Perdue leads Nunn by four points while Broun edges her by one. The other top candidates are either tied or trailing.
Broun agrees with state and national Republican leaders on one critical fact, that Michelle Nunn needs to lose.
“The most unelectable candidate running in this whole race on either side is Michelle Nunn because she is so radically liberal. When Barack Obama said to bomb Syria, she said go for it, which just indicates she’s going to be a puppet for Barack Obama. Republicans and Democrats alike did not like that position,” said Broun.
“There was a fundraiser for her up in New York City and the special guest was Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama told the crowd there that she’s eager to see Michelle Nunn in the U.S. Senate so they could continue their health care agenda. Well, Obama’s been very clear. They want to go to socialized medicine in a single payer system,” said Broun.
“Then she went on to say (Nunn needed to be elected) so they could get their gun control agenda through the Senate. Well, Obama’s been clear about that too. They don’t believe that anybody, except for the police and military, should own a gun,” said Broun, who chairs the Second Amendment Task Force in the House of Representatives and has the endorsement of two major gun rights groups.
“We must not ever, ever lose our individual right to own a gun. In fact, the second amendment and the first amendment are the guardians of our liberty and the second amendment actually guards the first amendment. So I’ve got the record. Nobody else in this race does,” he said.
Broun says the GOP establishment is worried he would lose the general election, but the congressman says the biggest gamble would be electing one of the other candidates who cannot match his conservative credentials.
“We’ve got four major candidates. Four of them are establishment candidates. I’m the only non-establishment candidate running in this race. The establishment candidates like big government. I like limited government. That’s the reason I’ve been described as a tea partier before there was a tea party,” said Broun.
“I’m the most electable candidate in this race for the simple reason that the only way we’d give the Democrats any chance whatsoever to win is if we were to nominate an establishment, big government candidate. The four of them would fit that bill. Republican conservative voters staying home in November would be the only thing that may give her a chance to win this race. Nominating me is why I will win this race. I just need people to pray for me, people in Georgia to vote for me and people all over the country to contribute to my campaign,” said Broun.