May 26 2010

Rossi’s entry

Published by at 8:19 am under Washington

Shorter Dino Rossi: If you’re among those worried about what Washington (the east coast one) is doing, Dino feels your pain.

It was a campaign announcement and Rossi is in, and maybe this is the kind of announcement – streamed on the net – candidates will be using routinely in years to come. There’s nothing holy about making the pronouncement standing in front of some public building with a gaggle of reporters looking on. This one was controlled and precise (even if he did trip over a couple of words). In five minutes Rossi conveyed a campaign message that, improbably, finally got him into the race.

A curious thing: No reference at all to either the people he’s running against right now – meaning the crowd of other Republicans who have been actively campaigning for months – or to his prospective general election opponent, incumbent Democratic Senator Patty Murray. Not really any specific reference to Washington state, either. The talk opened with a series of questions, some of them so general (do you feel like . . .) they could belong in a poll, or on Oprah. It had in fact such a generic feel that this could have been a campaign speech for any Republican running for any seat in Congress anywhere in the country. Its generic feel, coming from a guy who actually does know Washington well after intensively running for governor twice, seems a little odd.

It was a feel-good speech; after hearing it, you’re clearly meant to be comfortable with this guy. And it works on that level. But Rossi is going to need much more than that. He is starting extremely late in the game for a major candidate for a major office, a contrast to the way he ran his earlier campaigns. However much national money may be poured in, and however many past supporters may line up to help, the problem is that the number of days between here and the primary (which he still has to get through, without alienating his crowd of opposition and their supporters), and the general election, which means he will have to take campaign efficiencies to whole new levels.

To be sure, we had suspected that by the time Rossi got to May and still hadn’t entered, he wasn’t going to. He did. But the reasons why you wouldn’t think he would remain compelling. Rossi has a remarkable challenge on his hands.

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