For one, it was discovered that Ward’s wife was the family bread winner, working as a salaried employee of Fannie Mae. Of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with being an employee of the federal government. But being reliant on a federal salary raised questions about Ward’s authenticity as he railed against the ever-expansive Obama government.
The “Fannie Mae matter” was one thing. But it was quite a different thing when, in late April of this year, Major Ward received a rebuke from the Pentagon, and the U.S. Marine Corps itself. Images of Ward in military gear had been used in campaign web advertisements, and this, the Pentagon noted, violated the policy of the U.S. Military that it remain a-political, and that military imagery not be used to endorse political agendas.
From there the remaining few weeks of the “Ward For Congress” campaign were tragic. A journalist in Spokane, Washington discovered that Ward had lifted huge sections of “policy positions” content from other Republican congressional campaign websites (in some cases duplicating entire paragraphs, line-for-line), and placed them on his own campaign website.
Rather than trying to argue that Ward was in agreement with the various other congressional candidates that he was “emulating,” the campaign instead responded to the news in a very guilty, embarrassed fashion, firing a campaign spokesperson, shutting off the policy pages on the website, and insisting that it was all a mistake committed by the web designer.
Then Ward embarrassed himself in a debate against his severely underfunded grass roots Republican challenger Raul Labrador, by claiming that he opposed congressional representation for the “country” of Puerto Rico (Labrador, who grew up in Puerto Rico, was quick to pounce on Ward’s factual error about the U.S. Territory). And hours before primary election day, an embarrassing (albeit severely edited and “doctored”) video of Ward using words and phrases from an Obama speech popped-up on Youtube, a video that was so stunning that Jay Leno used it for comedic content on his show.
On primary election day in Idaho, grass roots Republican Raul Labrador defeated the “establishment” Republican Vaughn Ward by nearly ten percentage points. Ward had the entire national Republican machine on his side, and a campaign visit from Sarah Palin to boot. Labrador had few endorsements, and very little cash, but he had achieved something incredibly important - he had earned the trust of the people of Idaho, including those of the local tea party movement.
Ward is an honorable man who has served our country valiantly. Yet he showed himself to be “not ready for primetime” in his congressional campaign, and the Republican Party establishment showed itself to have not done its homework.
The current backlash against Washington is anti-Obama, yes. But it’s also about a return to principals, and about Americans scrutinizing those who want to represent us in Washington.
Is the Republican Party listening?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.