HELENA (AP) – U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg finds his fellow Montana Republicans seem to look favorably on the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani because of trust — even though the former New York mayor’s positions don’t match with the gun-toting West.
Rehberg said that overall, he is disappointed the presidential campaigns lack substantive knowledge about issues important to the West, issues in areas such as natural resources, parks and agriculture.
The congressman spoke Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.
Rehberg said he is not endorsing any Republican presidential candidate. Instead, he has grouped with other Republicans in the West who wish to help their party’s candidates become informed on regional matters.
Rehberg said the trust issue helps Giuliani, who had the second-highest favorable rating among three top Republicans in a recent poll. U.S. Sen. John McCain ranked first, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney third.
With McCain unlikely to win the Republican nomination, voters are apt to see the name of Giuliani or Romney on the November ballot, Rehberg said.
Giuliani, who has advocated gun control in the past, seems to get credit in Montana for being honest about those positions even though gun-control is wildly unpopular in the state, Rehberg said.
“Montanans have a tendency to say, ‘You are more liberal than me so I don’t agree with your politics, but you are true to your philosophy, you articulate your philosophy, you don’t back off it,'” and voters in the state are willing to support such candidates, Rehberg said.
Those whose positions shift, as Romney’s have, get lower marks, Rehberg said. Of the way Romney is perceived in Montana, Rehberg said, “So you look like you are changing your position to curry my vote.”
Rehberg said he is likely to support whoever gets the Republican nomination.
Speaking about his own political future, said he probably would have run for governor by now if he wanted that job. Rehberg, lieutenant governor under Marc Racicot, said he likes being in Congress and is suited to the raucous nature of the U.S. House.
Republican legislator Roy Brown hopes to unseat Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, and Rehberg said Brown probably can win if he succeeds in showing how the two differ on taxation and spending.
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