Below are excerpts from an article by Kristen Millares Bolt in the October 25, 2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The entire article is available online at: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/289864_mcdermottrace25.html
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
By KRISTEN MILLARES BOLT
.…Republican challenger Steve Beren, 55 … has received the lion's share of the spotlight -- not to mention the endorsement of more than 20 major Republican figures and entities in the state, including Attorney General Rob McKenna, the Washington state and King County Republican parties and Secretary of State Sam Reed….
"We are looking to build the Republican Party, to chop McDermott down to size," Beren said. "We are deliberately targeting liberal territory."
McDermott is often called "Baghdad Jim" by opponents because of his 2002 visit to Iraq prior to the war, during which he said President Bush would mislead the American public to get his way on the war.
He is also often called "the most liberal member of Congress."
When asked if he identified with that classification, McDermott said: "I don't know what that means -- 'most liberal' -- I don't have any clue. If they mean, do I always try to do what's best for the common good? Yes, I do."
The most important issue, according to McDermott, is access to health care and health insurance. In 2005, he sponsored legislation to introduce universal health care….
Beren's approach to the health care issue would be to cut taxes, thereby generating enough income "to make it so more people can afford health care."
He also proposes to encourage prosperity by reducing taxes on savings for retirement.
However, those are not the nuances Beren emphasizes to attract voters.
Instead, Beren thinks his obstreperous attention to hot-button issues such as Iraq and illegal immigration will help turn Seattle's political dial to the right.
"The anti-war movement has sunk its teeth into the Democratic Party," Beren said. "I don't want to pander to people, I want to protect people."
He knows a thing or two about anti-war movements. During the '60s and '70s, Beren says, he was a protester against the Vietnam War. In , he joined the Socialist [Workers] Party.
For 20 years, he remained a Socialist, dropping his membership in 1990. Five years later, he became an evangelical Christian.
"I was becoming a regular person, rather than an aging hippie radical," said Beren, now director of production for Shoplocal.com's Seattle office.
He was not yet, though, a Republican. He voted for President Clinton twice, and presidential candidate Al Gore once, before voting for President Bush's reelection.
His latest political metamorphosis began on Sept. 11, 2001.
Realizing that a military response was probable, as were protests, Beren began to call up radio stations and college campuses, getting on the stump to rally support for war.
He says he supports Bush's rationale for invading Iraq.
"They were not an imminent threat, so a pre-emptive strike was correct," Beren said, later commenting "had we waited, [Saddam Hussein] could have been further along."
Striking before the threat fully materializes, said Beren, would also be appropriate for Iran and North Korea.
His sole criticism of the Bush administration is its spending.
"I would seek spending cuts in all departments across the board, with the exception of homeland security, defense spending, and emergency preparedness," Beren said. "I think there could be less spending on programs with no reduction in quality."
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