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Sestak vows aggressive campaign on "accountability"

I spoke at some length with Joe Sestak late yesterday, and he offered a glimpse of the campaign he's planning against GOP foe Pat Toomey: A very aggressive one tying Toomey to failed GOP deregulatory policies and centered on the concept of "accountability."

Sestak, who used that word at least a dozen times in our conversation, also plans to make his military service central to the campaign, arguing politicians need to face the same accountability he learned in the Navy.

Also: Sestak said he won't back down in the face of efforts to paint him as soft on terror, unabashedly reiterating his full support for trying terror suspects in the United States. And he said he would proudly welcome Obama campaigning for him in Pennsylvania.

"What I learned in the military, that you're accountable for your actions, has to be regained in Washinton, D.C.," Sestak told me. "Congressman Toomey, who has been in D.C. much longer than I have, advanced the policies of deregulating under George Bush that tripled our national debt."

"He pushed to deregulate Wall Street, where they gambled with the homes of seniors and couples," Sestak continued, adding that the Bush tax cuts would be a central issue: "Fifty three cents of every dollar of the Bush tax cuts went to the top one percent, and they never paid for it."

Sestak hit Toomey for not being an "accountable conservative" and said he would call for "accountabilty as we had in military that I believe politicians should have."

Asked how he would respond to GOP efforts to paint him as an out of touch liberal, Sestak brushed off the charge. "People ask me all the time if I'm liberal or conservative," he said. "I say I'm neither. I'm very pragmatic."

Tellingly, Sestak again stressed his Navy service to argue that the military provides its charges health care for "pragmatic" reasons -- and said we should do the same for citizens.

Sestak also said he'd welcome Obama's in-person help, but said he would point out that he bucked the Dem establishment in the primary to deflect charges he's too beholden to the Obama/Dem agenda.

"When the president called me, I told him I'd be very taken if he came," Sestak said. "But sometimes the party asks too much. If I don't agree with something I'm going to stand up much as I did before."

Sestak, who is under fire in a Toomey ad for supporting terror trials in "Pennsylvania," scoffed at the attack and said he wouldn't back down.

"Try them in Washington," Sestak said. "If not there, in New York. If not there, somewhere else in America. Bring them to justice. The death penalty. Throw away the key. America's laws are our greatest strength."

Should get interesting.

By Greg Sargent  |  May 21, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Financial reform , Foreign policy and national security , Health reform , Joe Sestak , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Comments

Greg, Did Joe Sestak vote along with the House Committee preventing the DoD to buy the facility in Illinois? Cause the vote was held yesterday.

If he did, then his words on terror trials are just that....words.

http://washingtonindependent.com/85355/house-panel-deals-gitmo-closure-a-major-setback

Posted by: calchala | May 21, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"Sestak said he won't back down in the face of efforts to paint him as soft on terror, unabashedly reiterating his full support for trying terror suspects in the United States."

Gosh I don't know about the wisdom of that - it will be interesting to see.

"According to Scott Brown’s pollster Neil Newhouse, one of the big reasons for Brown’s win was the concern among Massachusetts voters about Obama’s terror policies."

And now Dennis Blair has resigned after three terror attacks/attempts. And congress is not funding the effort to purchase a new prison on US soil to hold Gitmo detainees. And many congressmen are opposed to Manhattan terror trials.

Doesn't seem like a winning argument to me...

Posted by: sbj3 | May 21, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

SBJ, see the Slate article I posted in the Morning Roundup.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

OT, this is crazy:

Charlie Crist says he would vote to confirm Elena Kagan, but talking to the Miami Herald editorial board the other day struggled to recall specifically why he opposed Sonia Sotomayor. It couldn't possibly because he was in trouble in the Republican primary back then, could it?

http://blogs.tampabay.com/buzz/2010/05/crist-cant-recall-why-he-opposed-sotomayor.html

Meek has all the upside potential in this race. He's going to pull a Sestak.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Btw, there's video at that link of Crist saying, "I can't recall it right now," in response to what was the reason he would have opposed Sotomayor. Unreal.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Btw, there's video at that link of Crist saying, "I can't recall it right now," in response to what was the reason he would have opposed Sotomayor. Unreal.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Doh! Funky error, sorry for the double post.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"I spoke at some length yesterday...."

Sargeant write another blooper showing how egocentric he is?

Has an interview ever been done without speaking at SOME length or other? Leading with it is only another hint of some self adoration. We'll see.

Posted by: whistling | May 21, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Greg, FYI, I see Ethan posted twice here and I posted twice last thread. My first post went to some kind of error message and then back to my original comment. After submitting, it duplicated itself. Just sayin'.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 21, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

@ethan: That's fine (and true) but the Dems are in charge now and have been for three years (?)

Posted by: sbj3 | May 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse


"I spoke at some length yestrday..." the ever ego centric Sargeant writes.

Can you do an interview without speaking at SOME length?

Leading with your acccess (hardly unique yesterday, in fact the guy was omnipresent)
is more of the same "I" stuff from
this columnists. We'll see.

Posted by: whistling | May 21, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

"That's fine (and true) but the Dems are in charge now and have been for three years (?)"

SBJ, is there a reason why you posted a (?) after three years?

Could it be acknowledging the reality that Bush and co never would have gone along with these changes from 2007-2008? And that, upon Obama's inauguration, starting a knock-down-drag-out debate over the DNI position during a time of economic collapse doesn't sound like the most contructive idea?

Yours doesn't seem like a winning argument to me...

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I wonder about the trolls who attack the Democrats on jobs.

What more are the Democrats supposed to do about the devastating unemployment numbers that would not include government action or spending?

As usual with Republicans, they are talking out of both sides of their mouth when it comes to jobs.

Posted by: Beeliever | May 21, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Sestak's words are music to my ears. And now that Rand Paul has arrived on the stage isn't it about time we put to bed the tired sawhorse about "out of touch liberals"? It is obvious to all that it is now the Conservatives who are the Ivory Tower ideologues and who are totally out of touch with mainstream America --- not to mention reality.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 21, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Terrorists don't deserve the honor of a military trial. They're not soldiers. They're criminals.

Posted by: jzap | May 21, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Democrats may be in charge, but they aren't the only party given the responsibility (and nice paychecks) to govern during a deep economic recession and the devastating unemployment that was caused by Wall Street.
Desperate Republicans rather win an election by pandering to their extreme right-wing than work with the Democrats to turn our country back around and get people back to work. Our country deserved two parties trying to undo the damage done by Bush and Wall Street.

Posted by: Beeliever | May 21, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

@ethan: "is there a reason why you posted a (?) after three years?"

I wasn't sure how long it has been that Democrats have had control of both houses of congress.

People are disappointed with the economy, with our government, with congress in particular. Who controls congress? The Democrats. What party does Sestak belong to?

Posted by: sbj3 | May 21, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

All, Rand Paul won't say whether Federal government has valid role in setting minimum wage:

http://bit.ly/9zGS4W

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 21, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

In fact, it was during the Clinton administration that the deregulation of wall street was done and it was lead by Larry Summers and Bob Ruben. With the collapse of Long Term Credit, again, during the Clinton administration, Ms. Born wanted to do something about derivatives and her efforts were blocked by the aforementioned Summers and Rubin. The problems with Fannie and Freddie began years ago in the time of the Carter administration. The Bush administration wanted to do something about the problems with these two entities and it was blocked by such noted economists as Barney Frank and Maxine Waters. I want to note that the current reform bills omit any efforts to reform Fannie or Freddie and one can make a good case that these two entities caused the current financial crisis. The simple truth is that campaign contributions from big banks and wall street has led Republicans and Democrats to adopt policies favored by big banks and wall street and this is a Republican and Democrat issue. Last by not least, I want to note that the big banks and wall street like the reform bill that just passed the Senate. Do people think that it looks after their interests or the interests of ordinary hard working Americas?

Posted by: jeffreed | May 21, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

SBJ, I was teasing you about the (?) because it's obvious that your comment was disingenuous. Just as was your follow-up.

At least you admit that the Republican establishment was responsible for nullifying the authority of the DNI position against the wishes of the Democratic Party and the 9/11 Commission. A circumstance which you now fraudulently attempt to use as evidence of Democratic Party's failure on national security issues.

Your comments would be laughable, as usual, but unfortunately they must be taken seriously as they form the basis of neocon candidates' (like Pat Toomey) political campaigns. Sad, wrong, and truly pathetic

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 21, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Slave Sargent:
"Tellingly, Sestak again stressed his Navy service to argue that the military provides its charges health care for "pragmatic" reasons -- and said we should do the same for citizens."

Ha-ha-ha!

Tellingly, he ran as being opposed to Socialist Utopia ObamaCare.

So whom was he lying to?

You or his constituents?

Posted by: Bilgeman | May 21, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Jeffreed wrote:

"In fact, it was during the Clinton administration that the deregulation of wall street was done and it was lead by Larry Summers and Bob Ruben. With the collapse of Long Term Credit, again, during the Clinton administration, Ms. Born wanted to do something about derivatives and her efforts were blocked by the aforementioned Summers and Rubin. The problems with Fannie and Freddie began years ago in the time of the Carter administration. The Bush administration wanted to do something about the problems with these two entities and it was blocked by such noted economists as Barney Frank and Maxine Waters....."

Sooo ... republicans controlled congress from 1994 to 2006, the white house from 2001 to 2009 and GWB was powerless??
I realize it took GWB 6 years to learn how to spell "VETO" but attempting to blame Carter and Clinton is preposterous.
GWB passed all of his budget busting bills using reconciliation, surely he could have fixed any bills you think Carter and Clinton should have fixed.

Posted by: knjincvc | May 21, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Sestak is one confused and factually reckless demogogue.

The recession was caused by deregulation of Wall Street by GWB????

I'm sure it sounds good to the ignorant dem base but it has no basis in reality.

Posted by: quarterback1 | May 21, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

"Sestak hit Toomey for not being an "accountable conservative" and said he would call for "accountabilty as we had in military that I believe politicians should have."

If he pursues this line of attack he's inviting a counter demand that he release his military records and explain the circumstances of his retirement, which he's already refused to divulge.

One would hope he's already thought of that.

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 21, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

qb thinks Sarah Palin's "the real deal".

qb doesn't know what reality is.

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 21, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Since this thread started out as a discussion of Joe Sestak let me offer some observations:

He’s a committed liberal democrat. I asked him how a career military man could be a democrat. He told me all military men are democrats only they don’t know it. They are given free health care (which saved his daughter’s life), education and training; live and work in truly integrated communities (I’ve found that career military folks have more true, minority, friends than I do); operate in a true meritocratic system where wealth and connections don’t help; and have a great retirement system.

He’s a real anti-politician. Reporters missed the fact that when he decided to run for Senate he didn’t also retain the option of running to retain his House seat. It was all in and no safety net. He was not afraid to take on the powerful state democratic machine. Ed Rendell treated him like sh_t. Belittled him at every opportunity. Our state party chairman, a good Irishman named T.J. Rooney, said a Sestak election would be “catastrophic” and pulled every lever in the state democratic party to defeat him. And as you may have heard, the White House offered him a plum political appointment if he didn’t run. He refused. He told me he achieved all he wanted in life when he became Captain of a ship. He has no desire to become a career politician or a “Lion of the Senate”. He really just wants to help turn Pennsylvania around.

Finally, he’s probably an SOB to work for. He spent 31 years in the military and expects his employees to work for him like his sailors did. But like he says, he doesn’t expect them to work harder than he does. He keeps his district office open 7 days a week and handles 4 times the amount of constituent requests as his fellow congressmen. Like I said, I might not want to work for him but I sure as heck would want him to work for me!

Posted by: plagiovane610 | May 22, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

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