New election, same old Keyes

By Stephen W. Stromberg

Published August 10, 2004 10:11PM (EDT)

On his first day of campaigning for a Senate seat in Illinois, Alan Keyes came out swinging ... far to the right, that is. Using blindingly extremist rhetoric, Keyes said that his opponent, Barack Obama, had the moral compass of an anti-abolitionist. The Chicago Tribune reports:

"When asked about his motivations for seeking the Senate seat, Keyes cited what he said were issues on which Obama is out of step with voters in Illinois and throughout the country, particularly abortion, gay rights and taxation. Obama's support of abortion rights means he 'opposes the great American principles that led to the abolition of slavery ...'"

The Tribune also mentions a challenge from Jesse Jackson for President Bush to back up the GOP's new man in Illinois. "Also Monday, Rev. Jesse Jackson, who is backing Obama, challenged the national Republican Party to prove Keyes' importance by making him a centerpiece of the Republican National Convention, which starts Aug. 30.

"With Keyes at the top of the statewide races in Illinois, 'It means prime time for the convention. It means [President] Bush should campaign for him, as [Sen. John] Kerry did for Barack,' Jackson said." As fun as a prime-time, hellfire and damnation speech from Keyes would be at the RNC, we doubt it's in the cards. Bush senior already learned that lesson from Pat "culture war" Buchanan in 1992.

Stephen W. Stromberg

Stephen W. Stromberg is a former editorial fellow at Salon.

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