So Denny Rehberg gets a camera thrust in his face by some lowly democratic campaign worker, who asks the Congressman what the minimum wage is. Rehberg lays a giant egg. He lowers his head, speeds up his gait, and mutters, “I don’t know. Do you know?” Rehberg just keeps walking, picking up his gait a little because he clearly doesn’t know the answer and just wants to get to his car so he can duck in and avoid any more questions. The minimum wage is $7.35 an hour in Montana.
Video ambush is a tactic that Rehberg is very familiar with, because he sent several of his goons out to do exactly the same thing to Dennis McDonald in 2008. (Mop Brigade Video). McDonald was caught flatfooted when a Rehberg campaign worker put a camera in McDonald’s face while a second campaign worker, in reporter style, peppered him with questions about his relationship with a mobster in California in the 1980s. In fact, Rehberg’s gang did it twice to McDonald, and on one of these occasions State Senator Ken Peterson pitched in, accosting the hapless McDonald and conducting an on-camera cross examination of him (Billings Mop Brigade video).
Though Rehberg was already the odds on favorite in that race, if there had ever been a sliver of a chance for McDonald to win that election, the video ambush put an end to it. It was good campaign work on the part of Rehberg’s operatives. It was well-staged, decisive, hard-hitting and produced a deadly result (juicy footage that could have been used in ads against McDonald in the unlikely even that the race had tightened), but it didn’t cross the line.
And that’s why you gotta love the Montana GOP’s effort at damage control today. As soon as the Denny-doesn’t-know-what-a-dishwasher-at-Denny’s-makes video went viral, the Republicans put out a laugher of a press release, the title of which is
and quotes Bowen Greenwood as saying
“Hiring thugs to do your bidding is cowardice, if Tester truly were in touch with Montanans he would be talking about the issues, not hiding behind political operatives.”
Let’s see if the Montana press bites on that one. Somehow I doubt they will. Seems kind of strange to equate a lackey cameraman’s knowledge of labor law to that of a Congressman.
I would predict that this video will be harmful to Rehberg, very much so. You might even see it on the national news. In Montana, his callousness to the needs of wage earners, given his personal wealth (a hundred million or so, one of the richest Congressmen), will be front and center in the campaign as a contrast to Tester, who is a dirt farmer of very modest means, perhaps the least wealthy of any US Senator.
And not only has Rehberg opposed the minimum wage, he has voted against health-care for the poor and disadvantaged while accepting taxpayer-funded health benefits of his own. Certainly he has never seemed interested in using his position as Congressmen to help alleviate, or even understand, the struggle that a single mother with children must endure to make ends meat.
This was good work by the Tester campaign, and Rehberg should be made to explain, promptly, why he didn’t know what the minimum wage was. (I can’t wait to hear his explanation. I’m putting my money on “I knew what it was, I just didn’t feel like I should have to answer to some jerk harassing me” or something like that).
Also, a bonus feature of the video is the presence of elk-hunter extraordinaire Randy Vogel, Chief of Staff, trying to run interference for Denny. In the video, Vogel doesn’t seem to know what the minimum wage is either.