Vitter defends GOP's Southern streak, slams colleague

The Louisiana senator goes after his fellow Republican for having said the GOP is too influenced by the South

By Alex Koppelman
Published July 30, 2009 1:15AM (UTC)
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Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, was bound to hear some angry responses from his Republican colleagues when he said his party is "being taken over by Southerners" -- and not in a good way. It didn't take long for the first to pop up, from Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

"I'm on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values," Vitter told a Washington Times radio show. "There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. We strayed from them in the past few years, and that's why we performed so badly in the national elections."


That analysis is debatable at best, of course, but it's one shared across the conservative wing of the GOP. The same sort of feeling also came out later in the show, as Vitter said of Voinovich, "He's a moderate, really wishy-washy."

In a different year, the Ohio Republican might have suffered some consequences -- beyond just upset fellow GOP'ers -- for his comments. But he's up for reelection in 2010 and has opted to retire rather than running again, which is probably why he felt free to make the remarks in the first place.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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