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GOP candidate explains TARP vote in TV ad: 'As a leader, I made a decision'

In 2009, Rep. J. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) took the stage at a tea party in South Carolina and faced a deafening chorus of boos. Barrett had voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program in September 2008. In the minds of tea partyers, he had failed a crucial test of conservatism, of leadership and of fealty to the Constitution.

It was a sign of things to come. Barrett has failed to catch on in the state's four-way primary for governor, lagging far behind frontrunner Nikki Haley. His response: a frank TV ad in which he explains why he supported TARP, which the ad refers to as the "Bush bailout."

The key bit:

I honestly believe with all my heart that we were at a point where men and women were going to reach into their back pocket and pull out a credit card or ATM card and stick it into a machine and nothing was going to come out. I listened to my president, George W. Bush. I listened to businessman and leaders in South Carolina. As a leader, I made a decision. Did we stop something that could have happened? Yeah, I believe we did. Has it been implemented like it should have been? No, absolutely not. You can always be a Monday morning quarterback. But leaders make decisions based on the best information that they have, and they go with it. That's what I did.

I've noted before that ambitious Republicans who supported TARP struggle to explain that vote to conservatives. And here's the toughest case yet.

By David Weigel  |  May 26, 2010; 5:01 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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