McCotter: no “ardor” for the current field (audio)

The Michigan congressman who plunked down $15,000 to compete in the Iowa Republican Party’s Straw Poll in August is in Iowa, meeting privately with Republicans before appearing at a Tea Party Bus Tour event in Ottumwa this evening.  Thaddeus McCotter says he’s not yet decided, for sure, that he’s running, but during an interview with Radio Iowa this morning McCotter quipped that he’ll be “lurking about” the state for the next few weeks to gauge his chances.

Is he running?  “I’m thinking about it. We’re exploring the possibility.”

McCotter said there’s an “absence pure enthusiasm” for the candidates who have said they’re running.  “There’s a sense in the Republican Party and amongst the Republican primary electorates or the Republican Caucus electorates that they’re still waiting to see what happens and they’re not entirely satisfied with the field,” McCotter said, mentioning the buzz about potential candidates like Palin and Perry. “…Or are they looking for something that’s relatively new that they haven’t heard of before? So I think if you want to look at it in a kind of an interesting way, you could be very thankful that you’re not a particularly known quantity at this point in time because the ones they do know they don’t seem to particularly have an ardor for at this point in time and, again, I’m not saying that eventually if I get in that they’ll love me, either, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know — at least that’s the approach I took with my wife when we were dating.”

Palin was accused of “stepping on” Romney’s “announcement” in New Hampshire by making an appearance in the state on the same day.  I asked McCotter if he had any qualms about “stepping on” Bachmann’s announcement today.  “I think it was purely coincidental and we sit next to each another in committees so she hasn’t said anything, so I think she understands that. And especially given my relative obscurity, which you’ve been so kind to point out, I don’t think that she’s sweating that either. In fact, I thought that her ‘announcement’ was at the debate, which I think was very well played actually and then she had something yesterday and now the formal announcement today, so I don’t think that necessarily that she would view it that way, but you’d have to ask her that. I certainly don’t intend it to be like that.”

The unsettled nature of the race is reflective of the “chaotic, uncertain times in which we live,” according to McCotter.  “In past elections, Mitt Romney would have been our heir apparent.  Republicans like to follow the tail in front of them with their trunks,” McCotter said. “…For whatever reason, he has not been able to inspire the electorate. I think that he is, in many ways, trying to play it safe, believing that he’ll be the presumptive nominee and that becomes a very iffy proposition for those that are that presumptuous.”

AUDIO: McCotter’s conversation in statehouse press room 12 min (Note emphasis on last word in that sentence)

McCotter spent a good deal of time at the end of the interview dissecting Romney, issue by issue.

McCotter, perhaps in a reference to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, volunteered that his wife is on board with a presidential campaign. “My wife said I can do it,” McCotter said. “It just means my honey-do list at home gets a little longer.”

McCotter is being escorted around the state by two long-time GOP insiders: former House Speaker Christopher Rants of Sioux City and Mary Earnhart, a former GOP staffer in the Iowa House who was among this spring’s mass exodus of staff from Iowans for Tax Relief, where she had been policy director/chief lobbyist.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.