This audio of Democratic State Senate leader Dick Saslaw being interviewed on the John Fredericks Show was posted back in mid October, but I decided not to write about it at the time. Why not? Simple: because, after talking to Virginia Democratic politicos I respected, I decided it would only be damaging to Mark Warner’s campaign against Ed Gillespie. Of course, I figured that whether I talked about it or not, the Gillespie folks would use it anyway (as did some of the top Dem politicos I spoke with), but still, I didn’t want to “go there.” Now, with the election over, we can all listen to Dick Saslaw as he talks and talks and talks about stuff he shouldn’t have been talking about at that time, or really ever, regarding details of the Phil Puckett scandal. For instance.
*Saslaw states that “the governor called me on Friday at about 6:30, 7….and told me that he had just found out that Phil was going to resign…of course I was a little shocked.” So, right there, he drags Gov. McAuliffe into the thick of things, which contradicts (never believable) stories that it was some sort of rogue operation by Chief of Staff Paul Reagan (Saslaw says it wasn’t a good idea for Reagan to have left a voice mail).
*Saslaw adds: “I then immediately called and left a message with Mark Warner.” Yep, he drags Mark Warner into it as well, in the final weeks of a campaign in which the Gillespie folks were hitting Warner hard on the Puckett scandal. Brilliant.
*Saslaw keeps on talking: “and then I called…spoke to Tim Kaine’s Chief of Staff Mike Henry, and told him, said look, can you have Tim call and find out what’s going on….I basically left the same message with Senator Warner.” Going for the trifecta, apparently, Saslaw then drags Tim Kaine’s office into it, while for good measure also noting that he asked Mark Warner to call Puckett.
*Reveals that “Mark [Warner] called me on Sunday and…said…he had talked to one of the family members…said it was too late, that Phil had already resigned.” The question is, why did Saslaw feel the need to go on conservative radio and spew this stuff? Got me, other than he loves hearing himself talk, has zero message discipline and zero sense of political strategy.
Anywway, I’m still baffled as to why the Gillespie campaign didn’t use this audio in an ad. At the time it came out in October, I asked one of the Virginia Democratic politicos I most respect if they would have used this in an ad if the shoe had been on the other foot, and the answer was “absolutely yes!” So yeah, seemed like a “no brainer” at the time, but for whatever reason, the Gillespie folks didn’t run with it.
More on the “flip”
A few more details from this interview that Saslaw really shouldn’t have been talking about publicly, let alone a couple weeks before an important election: 1) his views on the legality of the whole Puckett situation, given that was (is?) being investigated by the FBI (he keeps saying he’s “not an attorney,” so not sure what he bases his fine legal analysis on); 2) his own “shock” that Puckett would be resigning (uh…you were the Majority Leader and you were the last to know about this?); 3) his prediction that Mark Warner would win by at least 8-10 points, which turned out to be both WILDLY wrong, but more importantly was also a dumb thing to say, as it contributed to complacency in the “base,” at a time when supposedly Warner’s internals showed it tightening to the low single digits and the goal should have been to communicate to the base that they really needed to door knock, phone bank, and of course vote; 4) his comments that if John Foust “didn’t win it now…he should run again in 2016” (uhhh…we’ll see about that, but given Foust’s 16-point loss, something tells me that’s not likely to be automatic by any means); 5) his prediction that Barbara Comstock would probably win this year (correct prediction, but should the Senate Democratic leader be saying that publicly a couple weeks before the freakin’ election? Uhhhh….I don’t think so!).
Anyway, the bottom line is that when Dick Saslaw opens his mouth, all kinds of “interesting” stuff comes out (e.g., see Video: In Crude Language, Sen. Dick Saslaw Argues that Ethics Laws are Irrelevant, Unnecessary and Sometimes the elevators have ears, Senator, just for a couple examples out of many. So..how much longer do we have to wait until we can get a new Senate Democratic leader?
P.S. Of course, this is the same guy who utterly despises his “base” and anything “progressive,” thinks the answer for Democrats to move to the right, etc. In short, he’s not the brightest bulb.