RNC Chair Steele stumps for Koster's Congressional bid against Larsen

ARLINGTON — Snohomish County Council member John Koster received a boost in his efforts to take U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen's Congressional seat Oct. 8, when Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele showed up at Koster's campaign headquarters in the "Fire Pelosi" bus to cheering crowds.

Washington State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser touted the number of local and state-level GOP officials who'd taken the time to join Steele at the Koster campaign HQ in Island Crossing that morning, from state Rep. Kirk Pearson to Arlington City Council member Steve Baker.

"When I was just a green freshman in the state Senate, John Koster was already a leader," Esser said. "He's a principled conservative."

"I think you all understand that this election has an importance that we've not seen before in our lifetimes," said Koster, who laid the blame for the federal deficit and the unemployment rate squarely at the feet of President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Congressional Democrats. "We have 25 days before we decide what kind of country we want to be."

Koster and Steele agreed that both Koster and fellow Republican Dino Rossi, who's challenging U.S. Sen. Patty Murray for her own Congressional seat, are depending on the committed efforts local grass-roots campaigners to help them defeat their Democratic opponents.

"I was told Washington state is a blue area, but I see a lot of red here," Steele said, as attendees held up red "Fire Pelosi" signs. "This is about all of you. You're the ones who have made this possible. This wasn't manufactured on Madison Avenue or in Washington, D.C. It comes from people like you, who run businesses and raise kids."

Steele expressed enthusiasm for the prospect of Koster being sworn into Congress as "Mister 39," referring to the number of the legislative district, and asserted that the red "Fire Pelosi" bus, on which he's toured the country, is merely a symbol of what he deemed an already popular political movement.

"Do we have some Tea Party people here?" Steele asked, drawing cheers from the crowd. "Don't get caught up in the hype about there being issues between the Tea Party Movement and the Republican Party. The only issue we have is with the leadership of Obama, Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid."

Steele attributed the size of the crowd "at 9:30 a.m. on a beautiful Seattle day" — drawing laughter from attendees due to the gray, cloudy skies — to their degree of concern for what sort of legacy they believed the Obama administration's health care and financial reforms would leave for generations to come.

"How old are you, Libby?" Steele asked one little girl. "Seven years old? And she's got a $42,000-$55,000 price tag of debt on her head already."

Steele praised not only Koster and Rossi, but also state RNC National Committeeman Jeff Kent and Committeewoman Fredi Simpson, as well as local campaign volunteers, including one woman who made 400 calls a day. He urged attendees to join their efforts and work toward making the November election results match up to "what you want your newspapers' headlines to be. When you see those headlines come true, you'll know you had a direct hand in transforming the state and the nation."

According to Steele, his visit to Koster campaign HQ is part of a concerted 50-state strategy that he acknowledged set his chairmanship of the RNC apart from that of his predecessors.

"I keep telling people that this is not your mommy and daddy's Republican Party," Steele said. "Our biggest challenge is getting outside of comfort zone. We need to talk to people who don't look like us or sound like us. The people will appreciate those efforts and reward us with victory."

Steele's speech seemed to resonate with what many attendees identified as their voting priorities before the bus' arrival. Lee Harman of Camano Island summed up the opinions of a number of his opinions when he declared that this election had "a lot on the line" and that the country needed to reverse its current course.

"We have a national debt of $13 trillion," Everett's Gary Reynolds said. "We're not going to spend out way out of this mess. We need to cut taxes and cut spending to strengthen the economy."

Arlington mom Jennifer Nandor brought her two girls to teach them all citizens have a voice in the political process. Her husband hails from Boston and she compared the current political climate to that of the original Tea Party.

"I really want government to be smaller, and to be left alone to raise my children," said Nandor, who home-schools her daughters. "I don't like the direction the president is taking our country in. Sometimes he's aggressive, but other times he acts sweet, so you won't notice that you're in boiling water until it's too late."

Wylie Clark and Hank Wright, retirees clad in matching Rossi T-shirts, drove all the way from Anacortes to see Steele and Koster, but they considered it well worth the trip.

"We need to change the environment so that it's more friendly to free enterprise," Wright said.

"Unless the Bush tax cut is extended indefinitely, private enterprise won't spend any money," Clark said. "Koster will take care of that."

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