Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: What candidates say, and what they really mean

Published: Sunday, Sept. 2 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Utah delegates Tim Bridgewater of Provo, (center) and Brent Bishop of Farmington, (far right) have their picture taken with former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, (left) while on the Republican National Convention floor at the Republican National Convention, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News) Utah delegates Tim Bridgewater of Provo, (center) and Brent Bishop of Farmington, (far right) have their picture taken with former Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, (left) while on the Republican National Convention floor at the Republican National Convention, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (Stuart Johnson, Deseret News)

Pignanelli & Webb: A Thursday afternoon deadline prevents us from commenting on last week's Republican National Convention. So, instead, we offer the 2012 campaign edition of what politicians are saying — and what they really mean.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert: "I understand my opponent is a very nice individual, although most people don't know very much about him." (Our polling shows that voters are confusing Peter Cooke with Merrill Cook, and who am I to correct them?)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke: "I sense Utahns are tired of one-party domination. Our campaign has momentum and voters are warming to our forward-looking, common-sense solutions to the state's problems." (I'm mainstream, I'm a retired general, I'm a successful businessman, I'm a solid LDS Church member … why can't I break through even a little bit?)

Right-wing candidates: "What happened at the caucuses and conventions this year was a fluke. We'll come back stronger than ever in 2014!" (Wow, did we get trounced. I hope the LDS Church doesn't cancel church meetings so people can attend the 2014 caucuses.)

Left-wing candidates: "Wake up people! The climate is heating up! Our schools are overcrowded! Homeless people are walking the streets! The Republicans are throwing granny off a cliff!" (These tactics don't work in Utah, but it's fun to try to scare people.)

Desperate candidates: "I have the entrepreneurial and business experience sorely needed in government." (Once in a while I sell my wife's junk on eBay.)

Republican candidates: "Repeal Obamacare!" (I have no idea what Obamacare really does, but when I scream, "Repeal it!" everyone goes wild.)

Democratic candidates: "I support health care reform that expands access without increasing costs." (Whew! I just dodged a bullet. I discussed health care without mentioning Obamacare.)

Congressman Jim Matheson: "I am proud to be a maverick who does what's right for Utah instead of following party dictates." (Democrat? What's that?)

Matheson challenger Mia Love: "I'm a new generation of Republican, grounded in conservative principles but demonstrating the diversity and tolerance of my party." (With all this amazing national attention and money, I'm going to look really silly if a blow it.)

Sen. Orrin Hatch: "It is Utah's time to lead, and my seniority will help Mitt Romney achieve his conservative objectives." (We smashed the tea party far right in the convention and primary election, and now I can coast to victory.)

Hatch challenger Scott Howell: "While I differ with Hatch on many issues, I do respect that he has worked with 14 different presidents." (Hey, it's going to be tough to win, but at least I can have some fun.)

Challenger candidates: "My opponent is a coward who refuses to debate me on the issues." (No one knows me and I can't raise any money, so debates are the only way to get any attention.)

Incumbent candidates: "My highest priority is serving constituents and meeting people all across my district. These commitments limit debate participation." (Why should I give my obnoxious challenger any visibility?)

State Republican Chair Thomas Wright: "We will work nonstop until Nov. 6 to elect Republican candidates and carry our message of limited government." (Hee, hee, I can sleep until November and still be the most successful chairman in the state's history, thanks to Mitt!)

State Democratic Chair Jim Dabakis: "I fully trust that Utah voters are wise enough to look at the quality of the candidates and not just their party affiliation." (Holy cow! The Romney tsunami is about to sweep across Utah. Please, please at least cast a "repentance" vote for Jim Matheson or Ben McAdams!)

Candidates on why they run: "An overwhelming number of community leaders recruited me to run for this office because they believe I have something to offer." (My wife and Sunday School class thought I should do this.)

Dodgy candidates: "I am running because I want to give back to the community." (If I get elected, it should postpone that inner-city service missionary call.)

All candidates: "Along with all Americans and Utahns, I am outraged and disgusted by partisan bickering and personal attacks. I am committed to a positive campaign." (I'll let my surrogates and Super PACs rip my opponent to shreds.)

Sen. Mike Lee: "I'm pleased to be joined by new constitutional conservatives in the Senate tea party caucus next year." (I'm glad I didn't have to run this year in Utah; the tea party candidates got clobbered.)

Barack Obama: "The Republicans will cut taxes for the wealthy, dismantle Medicare, destroy the nation's safety net and strap their dogs to the tops of cars." (Sure, my record is dismal, and people are hurting; my only chance is to blame Republicans.)

Mitt Romney: "I am prepared to lead this nation to an economic renaissance with jobs, energy and personal freedom." (Please, please, like me! I'm funny, I'm friendly, I'm warm, I like dogs!)

Rep. Jason Chaffetz: "Mia Love is an exciting candidate who demonstrates the diversity and youth of the Republican Party." (Sheesh, how did I get upstaged by this upstart?)

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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