In the first major press conference since his stunning primary victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on June 10, Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Republican nominee Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) focused on the unifying “mainstream American principles we all believe in.”
Speaking outside his Glenn Allen headquarters in suburban Richmond Thursday morning, Brat noted that his supporters, volunteers, and campaign staffers “are coming from all corners of the Republican party and beyond. We’ve got long-time Republicans of all stripes. We have Tea Partiers, independents, and libertarians on board.”
“This is precisely what this campaign is all about from the beginning. We’re unifying all of these groups under one common set of principles,” Brat said. He was referring to the principles he first announced months before his primary victory when every political expert and mainstream media pundit considered him the longest of long-shot challengers.
“These principles, are in brief,” Brat said, “first, a commitment to the free market system. Second, equal rights and equal justice for every single person in this nation under law. Third, fiscal responsibility for all levels of government. Fourth, adherence to Constitution of the United States of America to protect our liberties. Fifth, we believe peace is best preserved through a strong national defense. Sixth, and finally, we believe that faith in God as recognized by our founders is absolutely essential to the moral fiber of this greatest nation on the earth.”
“These six principles,” Brat said, “are actually the six principles of the Republican Creed.”
Three of the six principles–constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, and free markets–have been publicly identified as the core values of the Tea Party movement since its inception in 2009.
“These principles are how we intend to unify the different parts of the Republican party and hopefully unify all people across the 7th Congressional District regardless of party. These are not just Republican principles,” Brat emphasized, “these are mainstream American principles we all believe in.”
“That’s why people from all stripes and backgrounds are uniting and joining us in this campaign,” Brat said.
Brat drew upon his professional training as a professor of economics to elaborate on those six principles.
“Because I’m an economist,” he said, “I’m especially focused on the economic principles in that creed. The people of the 7th district are tired of Washington dysfunction and an economy that continues to need serious help. We found that people are eager to send someone to Washington who has a comprehensive understanding of economics and actual solutions to help fix the economy.”
The themes of conservative populism that powered his primary victory were front and center at the press conference.
“Health care costs under Obamacare continue to go up and up and up,” Brat said. “Attempts to spend our way into prosperity have proven to be a dismal failure,” he added.
“These disappointments and other policy failures are contributing to an economy that is now in the ditch, and they’re caused by Washington, not by you and me,” Brat explained.
“When we knocked on doors and spoke to thousands of people on the campaign trail… we heard loud and clear that folks across the 7th Congressional District demand term limits right now. And they’re also demanding that crony capitalism end today,” he stated, repeating the populist messages that helped drive his resounding primary victory over Eric Cantor.
“I have a message of economic prosperity that I want to share with Central Virginia in the coming months,” Brat said.
“There’s no mystery to this message,” he added, “as most of it is laid out in the Republican Creed we just covered. I plan to cross this entire district and knock on thousands of additional doors and continue to spread this message.”
“That’s how we won the primary and that’s how we’re going to win the election in November. But to win in November I need the support of all the people,” Brat added.
Brat also announced additions to his campaign staff that underscored his emphasis on unity.
“[A]s we transition from a campaign that many ignored to one that seems to have captured the nation’s attention,” Brat noted that he has spent the last several days responding to “thousands of emails and phone calls we’ve received since last Tuesday.”
His new campaign manager, Amanda Chase, Brat pointed out, served as Eric Cantor’s political director during the 2010 campaign. Chase will take over the top operational spot from Zach Werrell, the 23-year old recent college graduate who served as Brat’s campaign manager during the primary. Werrell will remain with the campaign throughout the general election campaign.
Last week, Cantor announced that he will be voting for Brat in the November general election, where Brat faces his Randolph Macon College colleague, sociology professor Jack Trammell, who won the Democratic primary on June 10.
“Now I’ve got to get to back to work,” Brat said, closing the press conference. He took no questions from the press in attendance, which caught the attention of the mainstream media. A reporter for the local NBC affiliate who attended the press conference tweeted, “Dave Brat takes NO questions at latest news conference – new press secretary won’t talk yet.”
Brat, who ran his primary campaign his way by focusing on general principles in a highly disciplined manner, appears determined to continue that approach in the general campaign. Mainstream media reporters may not like that approach, but so far, the voters of the 7th Congressional District seem to approve of it.