Texas Democrats Pushing Retired General Ricardo Sanchez To Run For Senate
It isn’t necessarily unusual to see Democrats recruiting a former military officer to run for office, after all retired Admiral Joe Sestak ran for Congress and the Senate, it is slightly unusual that the man Texas Democrats have their eye on is the man who used to be in charge of Abu Ghraib:
WASHINGTON — Democrats appear to have recruited retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to run for the U.S. Senate in Texas, setting the stage for a potentially competitive race in 2012 for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes confirmed that Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the head of the Democratic Senate campaign committee, was referring to Sanchez Thursday when she said that Democrats were very close to announcing a candidate in Texas.
Sanchez, reached by phone at his San Antonio home, said, “I can neither confirm nor deny.”
While Sanchez, the former top military commander in Iraq who was forced out by the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, wouldn’t speak about the Senate race, he did discuss his career and political philosophy.
“I would describe myself as during my military career as supporting the president and the Constitution,” Sanchez said. “After the military, I decided that socially, I’m a progressive, a fiscal conservative and a strong supporter, obviously, of national defense.”
Sanchez, a Rio Grande City, Texas, native, said that he was shaped by his upbringing.
“It’s my views and my history, having grown up in south Texas, depending on social programs and assistance, that America has a responsibility to its people,” he said.
Barnes, one of the state’s last high-profile Democrats, said, “I talked to him. It sounded to me like he’s close to being a candidate.”
“He’s got a very compelling story,” Barnes added. “He’s the one guy who could unite the Hispanic vote. He’ll get the conservative Hispanic businessman.”
There is, though, that whole Iraqi prison problem:
Asked if the Abu Ghraib scandal – where U.S. military personnel and contractors humiliated prisoners in photos seen around the world – had effectively terminated his military career, Sanchez said, “That’s pretty fair.” He retired in 2006.
Sanchez emphasized that he hadn’t known or had anything to do with the actions at the prison and was cleared by Army investigators. His 2008 book, “Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story,” was critical of the Bush administration’s handling of the war. In the interview, he said that President George W. Bush “at times asked the right questions, but didn’t impose his will.”
In all honesty, this is unlikely to hurt Sanchez electorally in Texas but one wonders how eager the liberal grassroots nationwide are going to be to contribute to his campaign.