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Rauschenberger vs. Obama

Tuesday, Apr 22, 2008

* Former state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger has been a designated attack dog against Barack Obama as of late. Here he is quoted in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal

“Barack was one of the smartest people I ever worked with, but he was more interested in moving up,” says Republican Steven Rauschenberger, who served with Mr. Obama in the state senate. “I never thought he was very engaged in the state senate, because he didn’t think that much of it.”

* Let’s take these one at a time. As Rob accurately notes, Rauschenberger spent the last few years of his own state Senate career trying desperately to get out - with no luck. He ran for US Senate in 2004 and was thumped in the GOP primary by Jack Ryan. He then turned right around and ran for governor, dropped out, and ran for lt. governor and was trounced again in the primary by Joe Birkett. And he won the top job at NCSL after promising insiders that he wouldn’t run for governor, which he did. Pot, kettle, etc.

* When Rauschenberger was in the majority, he did take his responsibilities fairly seriously. He was often quoted in the media on budget issues, for example, and he was a champion of a modernized sales tax, which went nowhere. It’s not difficult to believe that Rauschenberger was more involved than Obama was, but until his final few years, he was more involved than most everyone.

* Rauschenberger was also on Fox News recently and blasted Obama for switching his votes after the voting closed. The LA Times reported several weeks ago that Obama switched his vote six times.

Rauschenberger said of the vote switching: “Generally, it’s people, in my opinion, who are politically ambitious.”

Last week, I was flitting back and forth between the House and Senate and heard at least six instances in one day where members asked that their votes be switched. This is an extremely common occurence.

Rauschenberger pointed to a riverboat vote where Obama was getting pressure from both sides and Obama voted “Yes” but said he hit the wrong button and should be voted a “No.” Rauschenberger claimed: “It’s very difficult in those charged votes to believe that someone pushed the wrong color button.”

But I’ve seen this a kabillion times, too, and so has Rauschenberger. People are sometimes away from their desks and staff hit the wrong button, or they just goof. Six times in eight years ain’t much. Let’s say Rauschenberger is right on that one boat bill. That’s once in eight years. Not exactly a pattern.

* Rauschenberger also claimed that Obama “wasn’t a reformer” on Jeff Berkowitz’s show, mainly because he endorsed John Stroger over Forrest Claypool for county board president primary race and that nobody has been convicted of crimes due to the Obama/Dillard ethics bill.

Obama didn’t endorse John Stroger over Claypool. Instead, he was neutral and announced the day before the election that he was voting for Claypool. And I doubt that Rauschenberger’s fellow Republican Sen. Dillard thinks that ethics bill was worthless.

* If you have the time, watch the Berkowitz interview. Rauschenberger claims he doesn’t know where Obama is on issue after issue, but the conservative Berkowitz points out where he’s wrong time and time again. It looks to me like sour grapes on Rauschenberger’s part.

Again, Rauschenberger makes a few very good points, but overall his message seems, well, “bitter.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

46 Comments
  1. - Ghost - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:18 am:

    it makes sense for his political career. He is gambling on a McCain win and wants to b poised as a strong republican supporter whose attack comments come from Obama’s home State and can be sound bited against Obama.

    In other words, he is looking for a McCain presidency to lift him out of IL and is gambling big. Truth must tajke a back seat to his ambition, and he knows he won’t get out on his own.


  2. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    During the 04 Senate primary, Rauschenberger challenged Obama to debates in the PRIMARY even though they were running in different party primaries. He thought so highly of Barack at the time that he thought the best way to elivate his own chances was to elevate the entire debate with the only candidate he thought worthy of his time.

    Someone with a Nexis account should pull his quotes from that episode, I bet they don’t square with what he’s saying now.


  3. - Anon - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:20 am:

    Hmmm, spellcheck. Grrrr


  4. - RMW Stanford - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:22 am:

    I would say it a bit of stretch to say that Rauschenberger was thumped by Jack Ryan in the Senate primary, I don’t remember the numbers of the top of my head, but I believe that Ryan, Obbie and Rauschenberger were all with in a handful of percentage points of each other on election day.


  5. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:25 am:

    I am perfectly able to recognize Rachenberger’s good points about Senator Obama and his opinionated assumptions without doing to Rauchenberger what others are claiming he is doing to Obama.

    “He is gambling on a McCain win and wants to b poised as a strong republican supporter…” blah! blah! blah!

    Nonsense! If you think Obama should be given a break about this, you should apply the same standard to Rauchenberger.


  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:27 am:

    RMW Stanford, here are the totals…

    JRyan: 234,791
    Oberweis: 155,794
    Rauschenberger: 132,655

    That’s almost two to one Ryan vs. Rauschenberger. Thumping.

    Whenever you start to write something like, “I don’t remember the numbers off the top of my head” just go check the numbers yourself first. :)


  7. - Bill - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:33 am:

    Raucshy is just another third rate surrogate who knows that McCain’s only chance is if he gets to run against Hillary. Since his own political career is over, his only hope is to get a low level spot in Pappy McCain’s admin..
    Sorry Steve, ain’t gonna happen.


  8. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:33 am:

    Yep Rich, That’s a paddlin. My favorite Rauschy moment is when he dropped out of race fro gov at the last minute and decided to run for Lt. Guv. I feel for th epeople who collected signatures for him twice in a few months.


  9. - GOP - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:38 am:

    Steve et al need to realize that the future of the GOP is with people like Durkin, Cross, Radogno and Dillard among others. If you are a Republican in IL and you want to win statewide you need to appeal to independents. Steve, Lauzen, Oberweis et al are not the future of this party. Steve should figure out how to enjoy his retirement from politics.


  10. - anon - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:46 am:

    Rauchenberger’s critique of Obama’s performance in the state senate is neither surprising, nor “bitter.” Why wouldn’t a Republican try to tarnish a Democrat, or vice versa? Wait until the presidential campaign, post-conventions, begins and see who tries to subvert whose chances with “revelations” of inconsistencies and other tedious rhetoric. My own conundrum is that I wish that Obama were the kind of candidate/leader that peole want him to be, but I cannot believe he is. The kicker is: what’s the altrernative?


  11. - Bill - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:50 am:

    Well, anon, it looks like you are in the same boat that I was in for the past forty years. I guess that you will just have to hold your nose and vote for Barack. The other guy is just out of the question.


  12. - Trafficmatt - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:50 am:

    Again, Rauschenberger makes a few very good points, but overall his message seems, well, “bitter.”

    Couldn’t disagree with you more, oh Capitol Fax Guru.

    For every political race since about the time that man invented the wheel, there have been surrogates that take on the opposition. In Illinois, we have had far too few on the R side that have been willing to stand up and take on the D side. I think it is fair to say that Steve is just taking this battle on. Sorry that he is taking on the current “favorite son” of Illinois.

    On your points regarding the Senate and Governor’s races, it would be enlightening to look at the campaign cash that the various candidates had. Steve was VASTLY underfunded in those races because there were a lot of self-funders in the race. My memory tells reminds me (could be wrong) that in the Senate race, Steve made a heck of a surge in the last few weeks of the race despite being outspent by a pretty significant margin. Until the Republican Central Committee stops the mantra of self-funding candidates, rank and file Pols on the R side are going to have this problem.

    Rich - you have to expect at least some R’s to take on Obama.


  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:53 am:

    ===Steve was VASTLY underfunded in those races because there were a lot of self-funders in the race===

    He was vastly underfunded because he’s a terrible fundraiser.


  14. - Bill - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:56 am:

    LOL


  15. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 10:59 am:

    The WSJ article was surprisingly weak and dull, a thin gruel of information and criticisms that have been out there for months. There was a time when you could expect a WSJ profile to be the final word — in-depth research, engaging prose and razor-sharp editing. Times are changing among The Powers That Be…


  16. - Bubs - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:02 am:

    Steve Ruschenberger is likely not the best person to play attack dog. He’s too darned nice. I suspect he is but a forerunner, however.

    Obama will soon be facing the Republicans in a Presidential race, not Hillary’s inept campaign team in a primary. The GOP will make what has gone on so far look like a 60’s Love Fest.


  17. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:03 am:

    Jealous more than bitter.
    Jealous that the Democratic Party took an Illinois State Senator who fancies himself a orator and turned him into a national star.
    Count Rauschy among those on the GOP side who think they’re their party’s Barack but no one helps them.
    Rauschenberger can’t believe that the populus didn’t turn out in droves for his message. Now he’s reduced to smearing Obama’s time in the Illinois Senate.
    I’m stunned he’s quoted. Brady would be much more credible at this juncture.
    True, he’s (Rauschy) got a couple points, but it’s not like Steve-o was content with rank and file status when he was under the dome.
    Of note, you also left out his (Rauschenberger’s) rejection as Senate Republican leader.


  18. - grand old partisan - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:12 am:

    Bill, only a ‘third rate’ Obama surrogate would say that “McCain’s only chance is if he gets to run against Hillary.” The only reason the super delegates haven’t rushed to Obama (who already has an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates) is there are many reasons to think that he, and not Hillary, would be weaker against McCain this fall. Whether you think it should or not, the combination of his wife’s self-proclaimed lack of pride in America, his pastor’s conspiratorial ranting, his friendship with an unrepentant domestic terrorist, and his own gaffe’s about middle America add up to a narrative that will make “flip-flopping Massachusetts liberal” look like a compliment.


  19. - Trafficmatt - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:25 am:

    ===Steve was VASTLY underfunded in those races because there were a lot of self-funders in the race===

    He was vastly underfunded because he’s a terrible fundraiser.

    Come on Rich, you are only telling half the story.

    Jack Ryan was pouring tons of money into the race $5.2 mil
    Oberweis was pouring tons of money into the race $2.9 mil
    Even Andy McKenna poured in about $2.4 mil in the race.

    So, given all the self-funding that happened in that race, how would Steve compete on the fundraising side?

    McKenna raised more money, but came in fourth to Steve. Steve raised more money than Obie, but was still vastly outspent and came within a fraction of Obie. Ryan spent about $7.7 mil on that race - about 7 times what Steve spent.

    Let’s not be too hasty to slam Steve as being a lousy fundraiser.


  20. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:30 am:

    I agree that Obama’s ambitions were more than apparent his last couple of sessions in Springfield…I think he was head and shoulders above most if not all state house legislators in intellect…I’m sure Springfield bored him and he was savvy enough to go to Emil and say look, you can be a kingmaker with me…Ryan’s suspension of the death penalty served Obama well as both part of the Senate Jud committee and as a member of Ryans taskforce…I recall some of his speechifying on the subject and felt he was practicing his future delivery for other such issues of grave importance in mind…

    Rauchy was on the wrong side of the aisle when he tried to stick his toe in the water and move up the food chain…Obama will win the Dem nomination but will be characterized as a black version of Adlai Stevenson another IL Presidential loser by the National GOP…


  21. - Amy - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:32 am:

    “Bitter” oh, that is so Rich…..

    I, like Rauschenberger, don’t like cotton candy.


  22. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:38 am:

    Flattery will get you nowhere, Amy. lol


  23. Pingback Quote of the Day: Irony, thy name is Rauschy, Updated « Illinois Reason - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:44 am:

    […] Update: Rich Miller describes the rantings of Rauschy in more detail, debunking spin after spin. Mr. Miller concludes: “Again, Rauschenberger makes a few very good points, but overall his message seems, well, ‘bitter.’” Blogroll […]


  24. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:47 am:

    GOP, Rauschenberger has cast his lot with the fringe over at United Republican Fund which also explains why Fran Eaton keeps linking to his spin appearances over at Illinois Review (both Rausch and Eaton are ‘big wigs’ over at URF).


  25. - Alan McNish - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 11:53 am:

    Rauschenberger has always been jealous of his colleagues success.

    Whenever the media needed a negative quote about Peter Fitzgerald (especially in the beginning of his U.S. Senate term before he was on the outs with the GOP), they’d always get one from his friend, Steve Rauschenberger.

    He’d attack him for being a “trust fund kid” or something else goofy.

    In fact, the only time Rauschenberger gets any press coverage is when he’s attacking one of his former colleagues in the state senate.

    Pathetic.


  26. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 12:15 pm:

    Stop. Listen. Think. If you are serious about Obama, you should listen to those who have something to say about him. Obama has less Congressional experience than some teen interns in Congress. We don’t really know much about him. Forgive those unwilling to blindly follow him and still have questions.

    Democracy is dialog.


  27. - True Observer - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 12:16 pm:

    Rauschy dissed Obama?

    Yes.

    Just like those ABC guys?

    Yes.

    What does the playbook say?

    It says the first thing you do is ignore what they say about Obama.

    Why is that?

    Because all you’re going to wind up doing is have to agree with what they said.

    So what does the playbook say we’re supposed to do?

    You attack the messenger.

    Every which way?

    Every which way.

    But what if we’re a journalist? Don’t we have to tell the truth.

    You sure know how to bring a smile to peoples faces.


  28. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 12:23 pm:

    TO, I went through much of what he said point by point. Please remove tinfoil hat. Thanks much.


  29. - Pat collins - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 12:47 pm:

    So, maybe Steve needs to console himself with the same things the bitter residents of PA use?

    If you are a reformer, you do something that changes things. Like Quinn - when he gets something passed, it CHANGES things. Sen. Dillard has provided more cover for Obama than a hundred tents.


  30. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 12:57 pm:

    So, Obama isn’t a reformer because he’s no Pat Quinn? Wow.


  31. - grand old partisan - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 1:11 pm:

    Rob_N, what does anything you said in your comment have to do with anything in mine? This isn’t the first time that you’ve addressed a comment specifically to me in reply to something that I never said or commented on myself. Frankly, it’s both irritating and a little disturbing. Do I need to ask Rich to issue some sort of Cap Fax Blog restraining order?


  32. - grand old partisan - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 1:14 pm:

    Rob_N - my apologies, I didn’t realize that you were, in fact, addressing a different GOP. I am embarrassed, and sorry for calling you out so unnecessarily.


  33. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 1:17 pm:

    Could a chorus of Kumbaya be next?


  34. - anon - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 1:18 pm:

    From the Urban Dictionary :

    1. tinfoil hat 214 up, 39 down

    Number 1 fashion accessory for unemployed conspiracy theorists around the world! [e.g.,] The illuminati was (sic) scanning my brain, but not since I got this tinfoil hat!

    2. tinfoil hat 207 up, 145 down

    1. A hat made from kitchen aluminum foil or other pliable metallic substance, with the supposed purpose of shielding the wearer’s brain from mind control/surveillance by various supernatural or conspirital organizations.

    2. Pertaining to various supernatural or conspirital phenomena. [e.g.,] Mike is still talking about space aliens? He must have left his tinfoil hat at home.

    3. tinfoil hat 55 up, 67 down

    Derisive attempt on behalf of blind conformists to discredit and stigmatise those who dare to question authority. [e.g,] “You honestly believe the war is all about oil? Where’s your tinfoil hat?”


  35. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 2:47 pm:

    Kumbaya, My Lord… Kumbaya…

    Just don’t pass the Kool-Aid while we sit ’round the campfire roasting each other, Grand Ol’. ;)

    At least we know for certain there’s more than one GOP left in the state.


  36. - Las Vegas Kid - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 4:16 pm:

    Poor Steve R. all that pent up unrealized frustrated political ambition. LOSER!


  37. - Nasty Partisan? - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 6:00 pm:

    Show some class for once Rich. You milked information from Sen. Rauschenberger from the press box day after day after day. You certainly appeared to be a good friend of his and you relied on his information regularly.

    Either you can feign friendship like a normal person wears a shirt or you are willing to backstab an old buddy for sheer partisan gain.

    Real nice.


  38. - downstate GOP faithless - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 6:09 pm:

    um…i like jeff b. as much as the next guy (and i really do-he’s always been good to me and is seemingly fair, in spite of his rep), but are we really using anything said on his show as gospel? my favorite raushcy is that 10 days after he lsot his senate primary, people kept talking about how he just needed another week…yes, because the answer to a third place finish is another week…


  39. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 7:48 pm:

    Nasty Partisan, bite me. If he wants to obfuscate and downright lie about what goes on at the Statehouse, that’s his problem, not mine.

    What is it with some people that when called out they gotta claim that the person calling them out is working for the other side? Talk about idiotic. Yeah, real class.


  40. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 7:51 pm:

    Also, it was the rest of the press corps that worshipped the guy. We had a good relationship because he was honest. But when he stopped being honest I lost my respect.

    Ask him about his lobbying partners. Not exactly a holier than thou character.


  41. - Is summer here yet? - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 7:58 pm:

    To call Sen. Dillard a ‘fellow’ Republican to Rauschie is quite a stretch. Rauschie was probably cringing after the stupidity of Dillard on a host of issues from the RTA bailout to the Obama ads.


  42. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 8:02 pm:

    Gee, all kinds of new commenters flooding out to support their guy. Welcome. Watch your step. lol


  43. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 22, 08 @ 8:12 pm:

    This whole thread reminds of the the scene in the Omen where Damien goes to the zoo and the baboons, I think they were, begin to attack.


  44. - Bruno - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 9:16 am:

    GOP wrote:Steve et al need to realize that the future of the GOP is with people like Durkin, Cross, Radogno and Dillard

    That’s a howler, GOP (not Grand Old Partisan). Though I can’t yet throw Durkin in with the rest of the crew, Cross, Ragdogno and Dillard have presided over the utter disembowling of the ILL GOP.

    While it would be accurate to say that the Right and Moderate wings of the ILL GOP may need to learn to play well with others (and that neither succeed), the idea that “the future” lies with a gaggle of pasty apparatchiks who are devoid of ideas or energy is merely an indicator that the ILL GOP has “no future.”

    I think Rauschenberger tried to straddle the divide because he was smart enough to realize that you can’t win by trying to kick your entire “right flank” out of the party.

    Those who argue that “only a moderate Republican can win” have just enough power left to make sure no “conservative” ever wins any nomination, and the Conservatives have just enough power to withhold enough votes to make sure the “moderate” never wins.

    Until some one fixes that internal dynamic, we’ll just have to watch Mike, Emil, and Rod duke it out.

    Cross and Dillard, architects of the above dynamic, are apparently more happy with scraps from Dem infighting than they are in actually campaigning on idea.

    They aren’t “the future.” It is more likely that the ILL GOP has no future until they are gone.


  45. - Bruno - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 9:19 am:

    Sorry “disemboweling”

    Disembowling might refer to Barack’s bowling skills


  46. Pingback Ill Reviewers earn their dunce caps « Illinois Reason - Wednesday, Apr 23, 08 @ 5:12 pm:

    […] John “Poopy Head” Ruskin compares a journalist — Rich Miller — who covers Springfield and other Illinois political matters to Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. Why? Because Miller posted a few facts that put the lie to the spin being promoted by a comrade of Ruskin’s. In his role as a reporter, Miller has gone after Dems, GOPs and even Greens with equal aplomb when they fib, flop or go flakey, as Sen. Steve Rauschenberger has been doing of late in his anti-Obama zeal. This isn’t the first time the pseudonymous Ruskin has flailed around spewing crap instead of keeping his bizarre inanities to himself… (What’s that? There’s a financial stake for the denizens of Illinois Review to prop up the head of the United Republican Fund, an organization that so many of them also help operate? Go figure…) […]


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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