Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) shot a cap-and-trade bill, and an Alabama congressional candidate shot a printed copy of Obamacare, but Matt Rosendale, the Montana GOP congressional candidate, took the meme to a new level when he shot a drone that had trained its camera on him for a recent ad.
“It’s just a metaphor to demonstrate the overreach of the federal government,” Rosendale said in an interview Tuesday.
In addition to the 315,000 viewings the ad has had on YouTube, Rosendale told Breitbart the ad is running on network affiliates and cable systems throughout the state of Montana.
Rosendale explained the ad’s genesis.
“The folks that I brought on, we talked about different ideas and how could we put something forward that represented the problem of ‘big government’ entering all aspects of our lives. Everyone has become much more aware of drones… NSA, and the collection of data on all citizens.”
“You can identify me as the freedom or the liberty candidate or the limited government candidate,” Rosendale said. “I don’t think I would be characterized as a Tea Party candidate, I would be characterized as the most effective candidate.”
“I certainly would not deny that the Tea Party, the issues that they have looked at are certainly important to me as well… debt and deficit, and recognition of the Constitution,” he added.
Most local Montana Tea Party groups have policies prohibiting the endorsement of candidates. Instead, they focus on educating voters on the issues. Individually, however, many Tea Party activists in Montana appear to favor Rosendale.
Rosendale emphasized his ability to get things done. “I have been endorsed by 50 Montana state legislators, a former Congressman, and a Governor,” he said, noting that these endorsements are fully one-third of the 150 Montana state legislators currently serving in the House and Senate.
“I think that the voters of Montana are in a great position this election cycle in that each of the main candidates has served in the state Senate.” Rosendale said. “The general public has the ability to look at votes. If they do a cursory review of the votes, they will see I clearly stand out as the most consistent candidate on gun rights, property rights, sanctity of life, and resource management.”
Rosendale, who moved to Montana in 2002, still speaks with an accent that is discernibly from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he grew up and built a career in real estate. He moved to Montana, he says because he likes “the way of life, the way the people of Montana and I share the same principles of limited government.”
“Many of my opponents identify debt and deficit, rules and regulation as being a problem, but so have millions of Americans,” said Rosendale, who currently serves as a state Senator in the Montana legislature.
Rosedale notes that two of his opponents, former Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke and Naval Academy graduate and Navy veteran Corey Stapleton, are also former Montana state Senators. “But what did they [my opponents] do while they served in the state legislature to demonstrate they have the ability to change that course?” he asked rhetorically.
“I demonstrated while serving in the legislature my ability to evaluate the budget and find millions of dollars that could be cut in the budget,” Rosendale told Breitbart News.
But Zinke, the money-raising leader in the race, disputes Rosendale’s claim that he has cut the budget. “During Matt Rosendale’s tenure in the legislature, the state budget and expenditures grew at a record pace,” Zinke told Breitbart News Tuesday evening. “He hasn’t cut anything. He is one of 50 senators in the state legislature that presided over increased spending.”
Rosendale said that he “absolutely” would vote to repeal Obamacare in its entirety if elected to the House of Representatives. “My fear is it’s coming apart now,” he added.
Rosendale took a swipe at Zinke, who told Breitbart News “the Ryan budget was a good framework. The scale of cuts you would need to solve an $18 trillion debt is just not possible.”
“You can cut expenses,” Rosendale said, “you have to have the willingness, the ability, intestinal fortitude and ability to persuade other people. That’s the way you win. Contrary to my opponents, I have repealed regulations.”
Rosendale also criticized Zinke’s record on regulatory issues. “Zinke supported increase of regulation on our power plants that was going to be in excess of what the federal government asked for,” he said, referring to a website put up by his campaign that compares his position on cutting regulations to his opponents.
The website says Rosendale “has always voted against spending increases and in fact is the only candidate to cut millions of dollars from the state budget.”
Zinke, the site says “has voted for every single spending increase bill during his tenure in the Montana legislature.” Stapleton, “in his first ever legislative session . . . voted for the largest budget increase in the history of Montana.”
Zinke hit back at Rosendale when contacted by Breitbart News for comment. “Are cuts necessary? Certainly!” Zinke said. “But can we cut our way out of an $18 trillion debt? Absolutely not. “
“We don’t have enough time and every economist will tell you that it is simply not possible,” Zinke told Breitbart News. “We have to grow our economy and we do that by getting government out of the way. We get the Keystone XL pipeline approved. We increase oil, gas and coal production in this country. We become energy independent. We remove the government interference with small business.”
Zinke outlined the other government actions that he says will promote growth. “We replace Obamacare with a health care system that promotes competition across state lines, with larger insurance pools. We promote and enhance the benefits to Health Savings Accounts. And then we pass meaningful tort reform,” he said.
“All this gives freedom back to small businesses, families and creates a secure future for America. Economic growth is the only way to fill an $18 trillion hole,” Zinke stated.
Zinke told Breitbart News previously that internal polls taken by his campaign in March show that he leads the race. Rosendale says that his campaign has not conducted any polls on the race, but told Breitbart News “I am confident we’re going to win. We’ve spent the first five months of this campaign talking with the citizens of Montana rather than raising money around the country.”
He acknowledged that both Zinke and Stapleton have outraised him, and that most of his campaign’s resources come from a $500,000 personal loan he made to the campaign.
“If you look at what’s been raised organically here in the state, it’s very competitive, it’s extremely competitive,” he said. As far as his personal loan to the campaign goes, Rosendale said “it shows I am not beholden to any special interest groups.”
The Republican primary to select the party’s nominee for the general election to serve as Montana’s sole member of the United States House of Representative will take place in June. In addition to front runners Zinke, Rosendale, and Stapleton, retired school teacher Elsie Artnzen and real estate investor Drew Turiano are also on the ballot.
The Republican nominee is expected to have any easy path to victory in November.