Tim Penny served as a moderate Democrat in Congress from Minnesota for a dozen years, leaving in 1995 because "far too many politicians end up staying too long. I don't want to be one of those."
On Monday, the now 56-year-old educator returned briefly to the political stage to endorse John McCain for president. The two men were elected to the House together in 1982 and quickly became allies across party lines in the war against pork-barrel spending, which at the time involved dozens rather than thousands of earmarks being secretly inserted into bills.
"This really is a choice between words and deeds, rhetoric and a record of accomplishment," Mr. Penny told reporters at a GOP-sponsored news conference in Denver. "With Obama, it basically is rhetoric. There's a very skinny record."
Mr. Penny shared the pro-McCain stage with Silver Salazar, a Democratic activist and cousin of two of Colorado's Democratic members of Congress. Also present were two frustrated supporters of Hillary Clinton. "The real magic of Barack Obama was his ability to turn lifelong Democrats like us into McCain supporters overnight," complained Cynthia Rucci, a small business owner from Ohio. Republican staffers unveiled an ad featuring Debra Bartoshevich, another Hillary Clinton supporter who was stripped of her spot at the Democratic convention as a delegate from Wisconsin after she voiced support for Mr. McCain. The ad asserts that Mrs. Clinton was "stepped over" for consideration as vice president and that "it's OK" for Democratic women to support Mr. McCain.All in all, the news conference did a fair job of showcasing former and current Democrats who dissent from Obamamania.
But there were some discordant notes. I asked Mr. Penny how he felt about the prospect of Mr. McCain picking Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty as his vice-presidential running-mate. Mr. Penny, who won 17% of the vote running for governor against Mr. Pawlenty as an independent in 2002, was unenthusiastic."I don't think he has had a very remarkable record as governor," Mr. Penny told me. "I just think [Mr. McCain] could do better and I think he will."
-- John Fund
writing in the Wall Street Journal's POLITICAL DIARY ONLINE