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POLITICS: PennAve

Dave Brat: I'm not 'Tea Partier Dave'

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Politics,Betsy Woodruff,Republican Party,Tea Party,2014 Elections,Campaigns,PennAve,Eric Cantor,Dave Brat

Almost exactly two weeks ago, Dave Brat gained national attention by pulling off a primary win over then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that he called "an unbelievable miracle."

Then he went underground. In the past fortnight, Brat has mostly ducked national media, changed up his campaign staff, and started to adjust to life as -- willing or not -- a grassroots conservative icon of incumbent vulnerability.

He spoke with the Washington Examiner this morning about his efforts to reintroduce himself to the public and his campaign plans moving forward. Here are highlights from that conversation:

On what he's been up to for the past two weeks:

"The first thing is just replying to literally thousands of emails, worldwide, from everybody ... the first few days is just trying to get back with the people closest to me and thank everyone for their support and thank the grassroots people who brought me that win.

"And while I'm doing that, I've got national media out in front -- I've done a couple of those, and the national media was more concerned with the political jockeying and the gamesmanship-type-questions, and I just wanted to talk about what just happened in the 7th (Congressional District) and share the message I've been putting out, and I thought the national media would be interested in that.

"And of course I've learned -- I don't need to name any names -- I gave lengthy interviews to some of the national media and they truncated a couple stores to 30-second sound bites and said that I wouldn't meet with them and wouldn't answer the question. And that actually was not true. I met with a few of them and I learned the new game, and I just didn't really like that game."

On his status as a national Tea Party figure:

"“I don't think it's 100 percent accurate -- as I told you since Day One, I ran on the Republican creed and I ran on the Republican principles, and those principles are what matter. I obviously had huge Tea Party support and grassroots support because they believe in those principles.

"The national media is way too interested in trying to put people into little cubbyholes, and it looks like from the results of the vote I didn't belong in a little cubbyhole ... they're trying to have their nice little jockeying, gamesmanship-type columns, 'Dave the Tea Partier,' but the evidence shows we surpassed our goals by a tremendous margin."

On the response to a poorly reviewed MSNBC interview:

"The new corrective came out to that account that showed I actually gave extended answers in that interview. That was kind of the D.C. gotcha-game, and I wasn't familiar with that. My local people have been very fair to me and have given me coverage.

"That's one of those examples I was talking about -- I gave very extensive remarks for an extended time on complex issues, and somebody over there decided to splice it up into a ten-second sound bite and say that I wouldn't answer questions. And that's false ... The media does play a vital role in our democracy, and if we cannot depend on journalistic ethics, the nation's in trouble.”

On his interactions with Cantor since primary night:

"Eric has been supportive in private and in public. And, yeah, I'm going around meeting with every leader from the congressional delegation of Virginia to the state senators and delegates, local leadership across my entire 7th District ... that's what I've been doing. That's not the headline-grabbing stuff, but that's the ground game that's important.”

Should Congress try to override the EPA's new climate change rules?

“"Yes. The Wall Street Journal had a great piece on that yesterday. That's the fourth principle of the Republican creed, adhering to constitutional principles. Just at the grossest level, the primary separation of powers suggests that the Congress creates law and that the president executes the law. Right now, it's backwards.”"

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Author:

Betsy Woodruff

Political Writer
The Washington Examiner