Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, R-Mesquite, was always a long shot in challenging Rep. Steven Horsford in the 4th Congressional District. But now, it seems, he’s doomed.
Why? His quotes. Hardy has blurted, exclaimed or quipped his way to ignominy in the race, even as Horsford has ignored his Republican foe and tried to stay above the fray. Here’s a roundup of Hardy’s Top 5 most damaging remarks, which will come back to haunt him on Election Day.
• “Can I say that without getting in trouble like [former Mass.] Gov. [Mitt] Romney? The 47 percent is true. It’s bigger now.”
This remark, uttered during a meet and greet last week at Mesquite’s Falcon Ridge Golf Club, brings to mind the old adage about learning from your mistakes, or, in this case, other people’s mistakes. When Romney was surreptitiously videotaped saying that 47 percent of voters would never support him because they were dependent on government, he confirmed a Democratic meme that Romney was an out-of-touch elitist who couldn’t relate the common person.
Although Hardy is hardly a wealthy business entrepreneur like Romney, intentionally doubling down on one of Romney’s most infamous errors was a colossally bad idea. The fact that he prefaces his remark with a question wondering about trouble shows he knows the idea is controversial. The fact that he said it anyway suggests Hardy is just not ready for prime time.
• “But Hardy also claimed that the BLM and federal park rangers had no right to enforce laws on the property in question. Asked about that odd statement, Hardy cited the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, which he said were ‘part of the Constitution,’ although he acknowledged he couldn’t immediately identify a passage to support his contention.”
This claim — made during a Review-Journal editorial board — packs a couple of whoppers into a small package. First, while the Federalist Papers argued for the approval of the Constitution, they are not actually part of that document. Second, Article IV, Section 3 makes it clear that “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state” (emphasis added).
• “The events surrounding Cliven Bundy’s cattle are unfortunate and reflect a long-standing problem with federal government overreach,” said Assemblyman Cresent Hardy, R-Mesquite, in a statement.
When federal officers — acting to enforce a valid federal court order —moved to gather cattle that Bunkerville rancher Bundy was illegally allowing to graze on federal land, Hardy and a number of other lawmakers decided it would be a good time to attack the BLM. Yes, federal officers came to work armed (they usually do) but in this case, they were on edge because Bundy had invited scores of armed insurrectionists to his ranch to defend him against — what’s the phrase? — federal overreach.
Oddly enough, Hardy seems to be one of those guys who dislikes the federal government a lot, but desperately wants to join it. But thanks to these quotes, he’ll be saved from struggling with the cognitive dissonance.
• “When we create classes, we create that same separation that we’re trying to unfold somehow,” he said. “By continuing to create these laws that are what I call segregation laws, it puts one class of a person over another. We are creating classes of people through these laws.”
This gem was uttered in response to a question about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would protect gays, lesbians and transgender people from workplace discrimination. Later, asked about his segregation comment and the resulting national publicity, Hardy explained, “I’m not an articulate, well-spoken, back-slapping person,” he said. “I’m just a regular guy trying to do this job.”
• “If somebody pulls up in a welfare district in a big fancy Escalade, do you think they need welfare at that time?” Hardy asked. “I believe what the founding fathers said: ‘We’re entitled to equal rights, not equal things.’”
It’s not entirely clear what Hardy meant by “welfare district,” but this quote — made during a meeting of Hispanics in Politics while Hardy was vying with a primary opponent who happened to be black — certainly had obvious racial overtones. Then again, there were racial overtones when former President Ronald Reagan first told a story of a Chicago woman abusing welfare back in 1976.
So once again we see, Hardy is unafraid to get himself into trouble by repeating the unfortunate utterances of Republicans past. At least he probably won’t be doing it from the well of the House.
UPDATE: Undaunted, Hardy today released a statement through his political consulting firm, Red Rock Strategies. Sayeth Hardy:
Congress is full of politicians that poll-test every word, never take a stand and rarely speak the truth. Many have traded their courage for political expediency and ambition.
That isn’t me.
I’ve never been slick or polished. I grew up on a ranch and learned to stand up for what I believe and to speak my mind respectfully even when others may disagree.
That gives voters a choice. If they want poll-tested words from phony politicians that stand for nothing, they can maintain the status quo.
If they want a representative more focused on progress than political points and more worried about doing the job than keeping the job — then I will gladly serve.
Nevada has a long history of politicians willing to speak their mind and if these comments lead Nevada voters to throw out everyone who has ever made a gaffe — I will proudly mark my calendar for Harry Reid’s retirement.
UPDATE: And, also, this. And this, about how women and minorities are totally ruining the country. (No, really, he did.)
UPDATE: Wait, hold on, now the newspapers that originally reported his comments are saying Hardy merely said women and minorities are the reason President Barack Obama was elected to office, not that they’re to blame for all the country’s problems. The turnaround was also reported by the Las Vegas Sun.
But let’s think about this: If minorities and women are the reason Obama was elected, and Obama has done all sorts of things with which Hardy disagrees and that, in his view, were bad for the country, isn’t he actually saying they’re to blame for those problems? After all, they elected Obama?