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Update: Montgomery Transcript Contradicts Rosenthal Attack on Nelson

Last updated on 2013.09.24

Really important update! Could it be that an august mainstream Republican misquoted a firebrand party pariah?

Earlier I noted former SDGOP exec Joel Rosenthal's lambasting of Rep. Stace Nelson's apparent exclusion of non-Christians from Republican Party membership. Here's what Rosenthal said Nelson said:

“I am a Christian, Conservative, and a Republican. You can’t be the third unless you are the first two” [Joel Rosenthal, "Political Speeches," South Dakota Straight Talk, 2013.09.22].

Hold the phone closer to the mic, says journalist David Montgomery, who was at the Lincoln County Republican dinner Saturday and didn't hear any such ill-advised exclusion. Spidey-sense tingling, Montgomery rewinds his tape recorder:

Here’s what I hear Nelson saying on my recording, which is a little hard to make out at points because of crowd noise, but is pretty clear during the bold part, the crux of the matter. The quote in question comes after Nelson talks about how he didn’t just knock on Republican voters’ doors while campaigning, and is telling the story of his interaction with one voter in his district:

I knocked on that door and said, “Sir… I’m Stace Nelson, I’m looking to serve in the state Legislature.”

He looked at me and said, “Which party?”

I looked at him in the eye and I said, “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order, and I’ll be the latter as long as it supports the first two.”

You can imagine the shock when so many people hear that. They say, well, that’s not very politically correct. I say, well… I’m not very politically correct either.

[David Montgomery, "What Stace Actually Said About Christianity and the GOP," Political Smokeout, 2013.09.23]

What Montgomery quotes here fits with what I've heard Nelson say on more than one occasion. When he lists his three worldview touchstones, he's not laying down norms for others; he's explaining his own moral and political priorities.

I knew this quote would require someone to do some explaining. But the main explaining may lie on Rosenthal's shoulders, not Nelson's.


  1. Stace Nelson 2013.09.23

    Well, if you can’t beat a candidate on the truth, or their record, just make things up and claim they are racist bigots.

    I just may need to have a recorder on me 24 hours a day. thankfully, there is a video of my speech.

    Rumor has it I also had an ominous gun shooting trophy on our table…

    Thank you Bob & Joel, just the motivation this Marine needs.

  2. Roger Elgersma 2013.09.23

    Joel flipped Staces priorities backwards to his own priorities. It is dangerous to be a politician both for ones own mistakes and for others misinterpretations. But then no risk, no gain. Good reporters listen rather than tell you what to say and Montgomery did that correct. I remember another Argus political reporter who I am embarrassed that I forgot his name but he would come to a political meeting and say almost nothing and listen a lot. He reported also rather than steer anything. That is when the people hear it correctly.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.09.23

    Stace's video at about 3:25 shows he said pretty much Montgomery said he said, and not at all what Rosenthal said. Rosenthal was wrong.

  4. Jerry 2013.09.23

    Looks like Montgomery could replace that skin tag Chuck Todd who claims it is not his job to set the record straight.

  5. twuecker 2013.09.23

    Yeah, Montgomery gets the "True Journalist of the News Cycle Award" for this one. Glad he's doing the fact-checking!

  6. Rick 2013.09.24

    Joel is one of the smartest people in South Dakota politics. Obviously, he didn't hear it right. Lying is not his way. He has been around long enough to know it was probable that someone else recorded the speeches. If he didn't support Stace, he apparently gave the boy quite a lift with voters with this very sad misquote.

  7. Jerry 2013.09.24

    Sounds like Joel is clever smart. When you make that kind of statement, then just hope like hell no one recorded it. An open mic can sink you or it can steady your ship. Rounds will be in a dog fight with Nelson, Joel knows it and clearly seems to want to bring a bone.

  8. Kevin 2013.09.25

    Gotta agree with previous poster Rick. Rosenthal is a top three in SD Politics. Stace owes Joel big time for putting him in the spotlight for a few days. You know the old saying, any news is good news, just make sure you spell my name right.....

Comments are closed.