After stumping at Melaleuca’s massive facility outside of Idaho Falls, incumbent Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter called in a special endorsement partner to help him get the out the Otter cause: 2008 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Not content to plug for publicity in just Southeastern Idaho, Otter, Romney, and Melaleuca owner Frank Vandersloot flew over to Boise.
With LDS church members Vandersloot and Romney, it appeared as though non-Mormon Otter was attempting to out-Mormon LDS member and Democratic opponent Keith Allred, whose margins have grown closer to Otter’s in Southeast Idaho. A recent poll indicated Otter’s lead shrinking to only a 6 point margin in the Pocatello-Idaho Falls region.
Inside Boise's Linen building, crowded Otter supporters included State Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Luna, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Sen. Jim Risch, congressional hopeful Raul Labrador, and Republican members of the Idaho Legislature. Yellow “Otter: Idaho’s Governor” signs were everywhere, and Otter planted a kiss on his 95-year-old mother when he arrived with Romney.
Vandersloot started off the rally speaking passionately about his visit to the beaches of Normandy, where American men lost their lives to preserve America.
“Accountability, free enterprise—it’s what made this a great nation … the greatest of mankind. That is under attack,” said Vandersloot.
Vandersloot described his view of services such as welfare begetting more welfare, supposedly undermining the free-market system.
“You take from these people, you give to these people … and suddenly everybody’s on the welfare roll … It’s a vicious cycle,” said Vandersloot. “Thank heavens here in Idaho we’ve had fiscal responsibility in Butch Otter and a conservative leadership.”
Vandersloot went on from questioning liberals in general to slamming Allred’s campaign in Eastern Idaho.
Of Allred’s Mormon background, Vandersloot said, “My answer to that is, well, Harry Reid is a Mormon.”
The real fireworks flew when Romney took the stage, to a great applause. He took a minute to plug Luna, fumbling over his official title (“It’s a little different in every state”), and then moved onto the recurring them of ribbing liberals.
“They’re smothering the spirit that makes America such an engine of vitality and growth, and we’re not going to let them do that,” said Romney. “It’s an interesting time in the country right now … People recognize we’ve got a chance to set this county on the right track,” said Romney.
He likened the state of the country to the early debates of the founding fathers. He questioned the federal government’s role in health care, and like Risch and Vandersloot before him, praised Idaho, under the direction of Otter.
“It’s easy to be a governor when everything is going great,” said Romney. “You’ve got a great governor here. At a critical time like this, I’m so happy to be here in Idaho.”
Ultimately, the Republican love-in steered clear of detailed issues and focused more on how to beat the opposition.