LOVELAND — Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave continued to roll out the big guns when it comes to powerful fundraising attractions Wednesday, hosting House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., at a campaign luncheon in Loveland.
Musgrave, who also hosted President Bush at a Denver fundraiser last November to add $450,000 to her re-election campaign war chest, garnered $15,000 at the Hastert event. Musgrave faces Democratic challenger Angie Paccione and Reform Party candidate Eric Eidsness in her bid for a third term representing the 4th Congressional District, which includes Longmont.
“The fight on the (House) floor is between people like Marilyn Musgrave who believe in strong values, Christian values and individualism versus the people who believe in bigger government,” Hastert told the crowd of 75 donors.
Hastert’s 20-minute speech focused primarily on drawing lines between liberals and conservatives, the role of tax cuts in stimulating the economy, and the need for immigration reform that starts with border security.
He thanked Musgrave’s donors and volunteers and urged them to continue to fight to send Musgrave and the “family values she represents” back to Washington, D.C.
In introducing Hastert, Musgrave called her race with Paccione one between “the quintessential liberal woman (and) conservative woman.”
Hastert’s stump speech Wednesday afternoon was the first of several he’ll be making over a 10-day trip in support of Republican candidates around the country. Later in the day, he planned to speak at a fundraiser for Rick O’Donnell, who is running against Democrat Ed Perlmutter for Colorado’s 7th Congressional District, one of the most hotly contested Congressional races in the country.
After the speech, Hastert said the economy, fuel prices and the war in Iraq will weigh heavily on mid-term election races.
“We’re fighting a war. We’re on the offense. Just as we saw the other day in Great Britain, there are people out there that want to kill us and want to destroy this nation,” he said. “So we’re fighting a war against radical Islam or the fascist facets of Islam. And they happen to be taking us on in Iraq and in other places. We need to fight those fights there.”
Many Democrats, Hastert said, promote “cut-and-run” changes abroad that would put America on the defensive in the war on terror.
When asked whether she and other Republican candidates will seek to distance themselves from President Bush in light of his record-low approval ratings and America’s growing frustration with the war in Iraq, Musgrave said Bush “is doing an incredible job with the challenges that are facing this nation.”
Though Musgrave has differed with Bush on illegal immigration, she said she is proud to be a Republican and thankful to have Bush as a leader.
“I think that Republicans are running on a record, and we have a record that we can be very proud of,” she said, citing tax cuts, perseverance in the war on terror and insistence in defending American values.
Hastert, a nine-term Illinois congressman serving his fourth term as speaker, said he will help campaigns in 42 congressional districts this month.
Paccione said Musgrave’s appearance with Hastert on Wednesday reaffirms her close links to corruption, crime and special interests in Washington, D.C. Paccione pointed to alleged ties between Hastert and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Paccione also drew attention to a group that accused Hastert of trying to profit off an Illinois land deal by pushing for federal funding for a proposed highway in the area.
“I’m waiting for Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff or Bob Mae to come out and do a fundraiser for her,” Paccione said.
Musgrave has two more fundraisers scheduled this week, said her chief of staff, Guy Short. One is sponsored by a group of Realtors from Fort Collins and the other by a Greeley car dealer.
“Let’s see, Paccione has got the unions, the unions and the unions,” Short said for comparison.
A Survey USA poll Tuesday sponsored by KUSA Channel 9News showed Musgrave leading the race with 46 percent of the vote, compared with 42 percent for Paccione, 8 percent for Eidsness and 4 percent undecided.
Ben Ready can be reached at 303-684-5326, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.