David Montgomery dashes cold water on Larry Rhoden's attempt to light a fire under conservative voters and beat M. Michael Rounds in South Dakota's GOP Senate Primary. Rhoden signed Grover Norquist's no-new-income-tax pledge a couple weeks ago, hoping to distinguish himself from the pledging-not-to-pledge Rounds.
But intrepid reporter Montgomery goes back to the audiotape and finds State Senator Rhoden making an argument for a fertilizer tax during this year's Legislative session that sounds just like Mike Rounds's rationale for not signing silly tax pledges:
What we’re trying to do here, on one hand, is a tax increase — one that I think is legitimate, that’s agreed to by the producers, to fight some of the manure that’s coming out of D.C. With that, ladies and gentlemen, this is an example of why I have never signed one of the tax pledges, because I don’t know how that would pin you in a corner [sic]. Because in this case, on one side of the equation, it is a tax increase. But I think it’s very legitimate and necessary to take steps like this to combat some of the issues that we face coming from the federal level [Senator Larry Rhoden, quoted by David Montgomery, "Rounds Welcomes Rhoden to the Big Leagues," Political Smokeout 2013.07.30].
With that one quote, Montgomery shows that Rhoden = Rounds. Wow! Next thing you know, Pat Powers will be accusing David Montgomery of being a shill for Rep. Stace Nelson, who is two shakes of a lamb's tail (or is that two NutriSystem shakes?) from declaring his own candidacy for U.S. Senate.
Rhoden can try to explain the distinction between his rejection of no-tax pledges in the South Dakota Legislature and his embrace of no-tax pledges as a voting issue in a U.S. Senate campaign. But the fact that he has to do some explaining will sink him with the very voters he's trying to win. Voters looking for the over-simplified answers of pledges and Grover Norquist don't want nuanced explanations, which they tend to view as a synonym to fertilizer; they want blunt, straightforward declarations of principle... which is exactly what Stace Nelson can offer them.