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Friday, September 10, 2010

A conversation with Patty Murray

Yesterday, Patty Murray's campaign invited writers from The Stranger, Publicola, HA Seattle, Daily Kos, Crooks and Liars, and NPI to sit down for an on-the-record chat with our state's senior senator in Seattle.

Many of the folks who were there have already blogged about the conversation for their respective publications. I figured that I would wait, since yesterday was a busy news day, and I didn't want my recap to get buried.

Here the highlights from the conversation, which ran for around forty minutes:

I. Murray explained the rationale behind her decision to vote for the bill that gave Henry Paulson carte blanche to dole out money to big banks in the autumn of 2008. "The seriousness of it was overwhelming," she said.

"I came home and did my homework. I called a number of businesses... nonprofit organizations, universities, and I said, 'This is what we're being told, what you do you see with your finances, and in your pension programs, and what are you seeing with your orders coming in, and is this [as] serious as they say?' And to a person, they said, 'It is serious'".

II. Murray is "extremely impressed" with the job that Hillary Clinton is doing as Secretary of State, rebuilding America's international standing and fostering real dialogue with other nations.

III. Murray is sympathetic to angry voters who have been hard-hit by the recession, noting that home values have fallen, college tuition has gone up, and dignified retirement seems further out of reach for more and more Americans. She doesn't blame voters for wanting to punish somebody. But she also wants voters to know that she never forgets her constituents.

IV. Murray affirmed her belief in retail politics. She talked about holding "time-raisers" ... events for people who want to be involved in her campaign and volunteer but can't donate money.

V. Murray's greatest fear about a Republican takeover is Congress is that they would repeal or roll back all of the progress that Democrats have made since January 2009. Particularly the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010.

VI. She didn't pull any punches when talking about how the traditional media covers politics. "It's when I shed Washington D.C., get on a plane, come out here on Friday, and I'm home, that I read the national press and go, you know, What are they writing about? ... They're on a bent to say this [election] is really bad for Democrats, oh my God, things are really bad, and... So whatever feeds into that storyline, they're willing to write without looking in-depth at what's behind it."

VII Her top priorities, if she is elected to a fourth term in the Senate, are getting our budget in order, investing in our public schools, and ensuring that quality care is provided for our returning veterans.

VIII. She described herself as a "tough mom" and a "taskmaster" to depict how she deals with local elected leaders when they come asking for money for infrastructure projects. She indicated an ongoing commitment to help Sound Transit find money to continue the expansion of Link light rail.

IX. She supports Elizabeth Warren for the Consumer Protection bureau.

X. She is opposed to weakening Social Security or Medicare. At the same time, she doesn't want to comment on the deficit commission's forthcoming recommendations until they are released.

Three memorable zingers:
  • On Republican campaign rhetoric: "We are the party of fiscal responsibility; they're the party that yells about it."
  • On the D.C. establishment: "There's a ritual in Washington called 'blame everybody else'. I'm not going to get into it."
  • On Dino Rossi: "It is frustrating to me that someone who has a very simplistic view of the world — who wants to work like half a day a week, maybe Wednesday mornings — is selling [the promise of a free lunch] as a way to solve the problems that are so immense in front of us."
For more, see Goldy's writeup, Erica's writeup, and Eli's writeup.

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