In an April 23 letter to Orange County GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker, 48th congressional district candidate Scott Baugh and 19 other prominent local Republicans call for the stop of campaign ads for incumbent Dana Rohrabacher that spread “false information.”
In the bid by Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Clutch Purse) to win a 16th two-year term in Congress, his campaign has put out mailers that allege his former friend, state Assembly Republican leader and Orange County GOP chairman does not support President Donald Trump, making Baugh a “Never Trumper.” The ads’ fine print identifies this as the source of that contention:
Baugh donors said he “cannot and will not pull a lever for Donald Trump.”
The Whitaker letter argues that most reading that line would conclude that Baugh’s donors heard him say he would never vote for Trump. This is deceitful syntax by the Rohrabacher campaign, states the letter, as “donors” should read “donor,” in which case the sentence would read: “Baugh donor said he ‘cannot and will not pull a lever for Donald Trump.’” They add that is only true if you read it in the proper context: It was not Baugh, but the male donor who said he won’t vote for Trump, and it was not ever, but in one primary election that preceded the 2016 presidential vote. The letter includes examples of Baugh having supported Trump.
Baugh’s own mailers go even further, accusing Rohrabacher of being the Never Trumper. The Baugh campaign’s source is a recording from a March 28, 2016, conversation at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Newport Beach, where Rohrabacher was asked to weigh in on the presidential race.
“I thought I was going to support Donald Trump, but I can’t support a man who is a mean, nasty SOB,” says the speaker who sounds an awful lot like Rohrabacher. “I think Americans, we deserve to treat each other civilly, and I have always been courteous to the people who disagree with me.”
He moves on to comment on the tone of Trump’s campaign rallies: “I think the fact there’s some violence popping up now—and, yeah, you need to blame the people who are doing the violence—but you have to say that Donald Trump creates this atmosphere of meanness.”
By the way, airing a private conversation in California is illegal without the consent of all participants.
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Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.