Broun trades heated rhetoric for restraint as he begins Ga. Senate campaign

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is best-known nationally as a oratorical bomb-thrower — but as he launches his Senate campaign he’s reining in his rhetoric.

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In an interview with The Hill, Broun sought to paint himself as the most fiscally conservative of the potential GOP Senate candidates in Georgia. 

But for a lawmaker who just two weeks ago said that President Obama follows the “Soviet Constitution” instead of the American one, he was decidedly careful with his words.

“I believe in the Constitution the way our founding fathers meant it, which means limited government,” he said when asked whether he stood by the comment.

He also demurred when asked if he thinks Obama is a socialist, saying only that “the president believes in total government control” of the economy.

Broun, running for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), also declined to discuss comments he made last year that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory were “lies straight from the pit of hell.” When asked about the comments, he pivoted quickly back to fiscal issues.

“It’s well known I’m a Bible-believing Christian. That’s not the issue Georgians and Americans are concerned about right now. That’s not what they’re focused on,” he said. “They’re worried about a government that’s taken away their freedom, taken away their money, crushing their children’s future with irresponsible spending. That’s the issue of the day.”

Broun is the first to announce for the race — but the field may become crowded soon with other Republicans, many of whom have fiscally conservative voting records. 

Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Tom Graves (R-Ga.), Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) are all mulling bids, as are former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) and Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagel (R). Broun hopes to set himself apart from the pack by proving his fiscal bona fides.

“I have been the sole leader in fighting the out-of-control runaway spending in Washington, D.C., and I will be the only candidate in this race who’s focused on getting the country right on track dealing with this out of control spending,” he said. 

“There is no one else in my delegation that’s been doing that. I’ve introduced more legislation to cut spending than anyone else in the delegation. I don’t care who gets in the race, they don’t have the track record, the credentials to do this fight.”

He refused to discuss a new super-PAC from GOP strategist Karl Rove that plans to target Republicans who might struggle in the general election. Many have speculated Broun may be on their list.

“I’m concerned about what Georgians think,” he said when asked what he thought of Rove’s efforts. “They want a leader in Washington who’s going to stand firm, who’s going to be a fighter.”

Still, he couldn’t resist taking some shots.

“ObamaCare is going to destroy our economy and destroy our freedom,” he said at one point. At another, he described the federal No Child Left Behind education law as “no teacher left unshackled.”

Broun's challenge going forward will be whether he can rally the grassroots in the state around his campaign while avoiding any controversies. 

He has much less money in the bank than other potential candidates, though he argued he’d have enough funds and grassroots support to win the primary — and the seat.

“We’ve got the message, I’ve got the people, we’ve got the finance team. We’ll have the money to get our message out and we’ll have the people to get our message out,” he said.