Meet Vaughn Ward. He’s running in today’s Republican primary in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District. He’s an Iraq War veteran. A former CIA operations officer. A fourth-generation Idaho native. Heck, Sarah Palin supports him.
And after this spring’s disastrous, gaffe-filled primary campaign — during which Ward declared that Puerto Rico was a country, apparently plagiarized fellow candidates and Barack Obama, campaigned on cutting federal spending while his wife’s gig at Fannie Mae allowed Ward to go without an income, and re-released a six-month-old endorsement — Ward may be able to add another title to his resume: Worst candidate ever.The Ward campaign tried to downplay the mistake-ridden campaign in a phone call with TPMDC today. Spokesman Mike Tracy said that Ward “takes full responsibility for what’s happened,” but that many of the campaign’s problems centered around a campaign manager who was replaced less than two weeks ago.
“We took care of the situation,” Tracy said. “Changes were made.”
Let’s review the record.
Here’s a devastating video, as cut together by state Senate candidate Lucas Baumbach.
“Puerto Rico’s not a country,” Labrador said. “Puerto Rico’s a territory of the United States. It’s about time that we took some civics lesson and learned what Puerto Rico is.”
Ward: “I really don’t care what it is. It doesn’t matter.”
“Obviously you don’t,” Labrador said.
Watch (relevant portion starts around 1:10):
Tracy told me the above video had been “cut” and “doctored” by the Labrador campaign — and that the original question referenced foreign countries — thus making Ward’s response more reasonable.
“He clearly knows Puerto Rico is an American territory,” Tracy said. “He served in Guantanamo for awhile.”
When it was pointed out that Guantanamo is in Cuba, Tracy said, “I’m just saying he knows where and what Puerto Rico is.”
“I was managing the entire operation, and it became apparent I was not going to be able to fly home to vote,” Ward told the AP. “The important point is I was out there fighting for the campaign.”
Ward’s campaign manager, Ryan O’Barto, explained the decision to reissue the news release in an e-mail early Thursday, “As we get closer to the election I like to re-release endorsements. Some were sent out a long time ago and since it was so far out the press might not have picked it up due to the election being so far away.”
But an hour later, O’Barto called to apologize. “I’m not trying to get anything over on you. It’s the same release as before and that’s not what it’s supposed to be. I’m about to send out a correction. That’s my fault. I just got a new Mac and I’m still trying to figure it out.”
“People are human,” Tracy told me today, referring to the need for a staff shakeup. “And mistakes get made.”
However, both I and members of my staff have made it clear that the statement is not an endorsement and should not be used as an endorsement in the 1st Congressional District race.
The Ward campaign denied it. According to the Idaho Reporter:
Ward’s campaign manager, Ryan O’Barto, said Ward never backed Kaine’s campaign, and that his work as a college intern didn’t reflect his political ideology. “He was not a supporter of Gov. Kaine whatsoever,” O’Barto said. “He was not a supporter then. He isn’t a supporter now. He never will be a supporter.”
“We’re set up financially where I don’t have to work for money,” Ward told the Idaho Statesman last year. “Instead, I can work on a campaign.”
Kirsten Ward works as a technology project manager for Fannie Mae — which has received tens of billions of bailout dollars.
Worst. Candidate. Ever.
Additional reporting by Evan McMorris-Santoro.