California: On-Again, Off-Again Meeting Is Off Again

Posted June 24, 2008 at 6:53pm

State Sen. Tom McClintock (R), running for the 4th district seat being vacated by Rep. John Doolittle (R), said Tuesday that he personally killed a meeting between him and the Congressman that had been scheduled by his campaign.

“Our campaign was making some arrangements, and I put a stop to that,” McClintock said Tuesday during a brief telephone interview while he was in Washington, D.C., for meetings and to raise money.

McClintock’s campaign team had scheduled the meeting with Doolittle for next week so that the Congressman could introduce the 4th district GOP nominee to local Republican activists who have supported him over his nearly 18-year House career. Doolittle is retiring at the conclusion of his current term.

Charlie Brown (D), who almost defeated Doolittle in 2006 and is running again, had jumped on the news that McClintock was set to meet with the Congressman.

Doolittle is under investigation by the Justice Department for his links to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He has also been damaged politically by his decision to employ his wife as his fundraising consultant — ostensibly enriching himself in the process.

Brown suggested in a story in the Mountain Democrat newspaper that McClintock’s decision to meet with the Congressman signaled that there was little difference between the two Republicans — a potentially damaging charge if it were to gain traction among 4th district voters who are otherwise overwhelmingly conservative.

“I’m running my own campaign, and I didn’t think it would be appropriate,” McClintock said, when asked why he canceled the meeting.

Brown campaign spokesman Todd Stenhouse questioned the veracity of McClintock’s explanation of events regarding the apparent non-meeting with Doolittle.

Early last week it was reported that the two would meet, although McClintock denied that such a meeting was scheduled in an interview with Roll Call on Thursday. In Sunday’s Mountain Democrat newspaper, the meeting was again described as scheduled, with McClintock telling Roll Call again Tuesday that it was in fact off.

“It sounds like a politician backtracking,” Stenhouse said.