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May 26, 2010 at 7:32 AM

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Rossi: repeal health-care law & return to "limited" govt.

Posted by Jim Brunner

9:30 a.m. This post has been updated with comments from Murray campaign, Democratic and Republican senatorial campaign committees.

Republican Dino Rossi finally made it official this morning, entering the U.S. Senate race for the seat held by three-term incumbent Sen. Patty Murray (D).

In a five-minute video posted to his web site,, Rossi reaches out to voters upset with the direction the country is headed, citing rising unemployment, plummeting housing values, "wasteful" stimulus plans and "massive new debt as far as the eye can see."

In language straight out of Ronald Reagan's playbook, Rossi says "America's best days" lie ahead if we "unleash the power of the people" and restore government to its "proper, more limited role."

He says he decided to run because he couldn't look his children in the eye if he did nothing "while this fundamental redefinition of America continues unchecked."

"I believe the policies of being passed in Washington D.C. have put us on the edge of a fiscal cliff. If we enact much more of this stuff, whether it's cap and trade, energy taxes or a value-added tax, then all the work and sacrifice our parents and grandparents did to make this country great for us will have been squandered."

Rossi's delivery is relaxed and friendly, though not without several minor verbal hitches. (The video's release was also slightly delayed this morning.) He looks directly into the camera, seated in front of what appear to be old family photos.

The speech hits notes familiar to anyone who followed Rossi's 2004 and 2008 gubernatorial campaigns.

He talks about his hardworking Italian immigrant grandparents and his own record as a state senator from Sammamish, who helped craft a difficult 2003 budget by working with fiscally conservative Democrats.

Rossi says he'd do the same thing "in the other Washington."

Rossi says he'd start by "replacing the Pelosi-Reid health care bill with something that will actually reduce costs and increase access," though he gave no specifics.

Rossi says he wants to restore the "American Dream" that his grandparents believed in.

"The dream was never a promise that everybody would have the same things or that government would provide you with everything you need no matter what. Our shared American dream was that you would have the freedom to rise as high as your talent and work ethic would take you."

Rossi's campaign has said he won't be holding a news conference or consenting to any media interviews today, but that he'll do some interviews Thursday.

The campaign is off to a very late start -- Rossi has said he was not thinking of running until recruited by national party leaders a few months ago. Still, his name recognition almost certainly makes him the front-runner among Republicans vying to face off against Murray in November.

Perhaps the clearest sign of Rossi's status has been the frenzied campaign by Democratic operatives, who have been pushing anti-Rossi stories for months with national and local media.

They haven't felt as threatened by Clint Didier, Don Benton, or the other Republicans in the race.

Jeff Bjornstad, Murray's campaign manager, sent out a statement framing a Rossi-Murray matchup as a choice between "putting people back to work" or "take us back to the failed Bush-era policies that got us in this mess."

"Its (sic) a choice between who has stood up to special interests and who will cater to them. It's a choice between who is standing up for Main Street and who has gotten rich thanks to Wall Street. Its (sic) a choice between who is helping prevent foreclosures and who is profiting from them." Bjornstad said in a written statement.

Meanwhile, National Republican Senatorial Committee press secretary Amber Marchand carefully avoided designating Rossi as the presumptive GOP challenger to Murray.

"Yet another qualified Republican candidate stepped forward today to challenge Senator Patty Murray this November. No matter who the voters ultimately select as their Republican nominee in August, we are confident that Washingtonians will hold Patty Murray accountable for her long record fighting for higher taxes and out-of-control spending during her 18 years in D.C. Unfortunately, this former mom in tennis shoes has simply lost touch with her constituents during her nearly two decades in the Senate."

J.B. Poersch, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, sent a memo to reporters saying Rossi has refused to answer "several substantive questions on his ethical conduct," including an unpaid tax bill from his real-estate company and his participation in a seminar on how to profit from buying foreclosures.

The Stranger's Eli Sanders went to Rossi's real-estate talk last night and writes that it was "mostly motivational pablum."

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Jim Brunner
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