Republican Who Wishes to Unseat Warren Declares: I’m Not A Wingnut! Honest!

Oh, what a tangled web Trumpists weave when first they practice to deceive…

Apparently, it has dawned upon the far-right Elizabeth-Warren-sucks crowd that taking Breitbart to heart won’t be enough to unseat the Massachusetts Senator in 2018. To that end, her expected Republican opponent, Trump disciple Geoff Diehl, is now trying another time-honored Republican tradition: attempting to fool the gullible into believing he’s a centrist after all.

Step one in Diehl’s effort is downplaying his hatred for the Affordable Care Act, as David Bernstein notes:

The last time a Massachusetts Republican won a seat in the U.S. Senate — the only time in the last 40 years, in fact — the fate of Obamacare was said to hinge on the outcome.

Scott Brown won, in part, by pledging to be the vote that would kill it.

That scenario has returned, in dramatic fashion: we just witnessed a Senate roll call in which one more vote would have moved the “repeal and replace” bill forward, likely driving a sizable stake through the heart of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Yet, just a few days later, Trump-supporting, friend-of-Brown, Obamacare-opposing Republican Geoff Diehl officially launched his Senate campaign against Elizabeth Warren without drawing any attention to that topic.

Times have changed, apparently.

At his campaign launch last Tuesday in Whitman, Diehl barely mentioned his support for repealing ACA. Coverage of that speech, and his subsequent kickoff tour, focused on his emphasis on job creation, tax reduction, veterans’ affairs, opioid addiction, and immigration.

Diehl has never been shy about the topic in the past.

Just last November, he wrote the “Yes” response for a Boston Globe op-ed exchange on whether ObamaCare should be repealed.

But that argument — or any mention of healthcare — is absent from Diehl’s new Senate campaign website. I also could not find a single mention of the issue in roughly 200 tweets and retweets from his Senate campaign twitter account since his August 1 announcement…Healthcare is, by far, the biggest issue relating to the U.S. Senate these days. Yet Diehl — like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—seems more than ready to move on and leave that topic far behind.

The next step in this effort is to eschew the “Pocahontas” nonsense that Brown exploited in his failed 2012 re-election effort:

Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Cherokee Indian ancestry remain a question hanging over her political career — and a frequent target for President Trump — but don’t expect Republican state Rep. Geoff Diehl to make it a punch line in his campaign.

Diehl, in an interview on the “Battenfeld” show on Boston Herald Radio, said while he’s “concerned” about Warren’s use of her purported Native American background, he won’t be pushing it on the stump like Trump…

While some Republicans may not like to hear that from Diehl, it’s probably a smart move. Focusing on the Native American issue didn’t help former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown in his race against Warren, and may have even played against him.

Don’t be surprised if the Republican contenders for the seat that Warren’s fellow Bay State Democrat, Rep. Niki Tsongas, is vacating also try to pull this same “We’re centrists, really!” nonsense. The problem for them is, it’s unlikely to work. The state’s Republican Governor, Charlie Baker, is perhaps the only GOP figure in New England other than Maine Senator Susan Collins who is perceived to be separate from Trump. The idea that Diehl and the Republicans who pursue Tsongas’s seat have the talent to pull off the same trick is rather far-fetched; Republican US House and Senate candidates in Massachusetts tend to be as extreme as those in the rest of the country.

Warren obviously won’t hesitate to remind Bay Staters that regardless of Diehl’s kinder, gentler tone, his party remains a far-right freakshow. Sen. Edward Brooke isn’t coming down for breakfast–and if he were alive today and saw what his party had turned into, he’d lose his lunch.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.