Earlier this afternoon, freshman Congressman Michael Grimm opened up his New Dorp campaign headquarters and formally began his reelection efforts in one of New York City’s only competitive congressional districts. And standing before a packed crowd of a couple hundred supporters–including his adorable Yorkshire Terrier sporting campaign swag–the Republican incumbent was not short on grand rhetoric.
“I don’t know what to say right now, I am blown away. I’m overwhelmed, look at the turnout on a hot day like this, it was raining before,” Mr. Grimm began his speech, standing in front of what had once been a car dealership but was now his base of operations. “I can’t believe that I’m standing here today to talk about reelection. It seemed like yesterday, it seemed like last week that I was standing here speaking here to you as a completely unknown candidate. No one had heard of me, no one believed, except for you.”
Mr. Grimm went on to tout his status as a veteran and a former undercover FBI agent, comparing the tough times he’s faced in the past to some of his current struggles and challenges.
“Yes, there were many times that I dropped to my knees and I looked to God. It’s amazing because so many people think they know so much about me, and certainly the press does their job to try,” he said, surely referencing the string of bad headlines and controversies chasing him this year. “But there’s things that they don’t know. They don’t know my secret weapon has been my faith in God, always, always has. I believe that I’ve never, ever been alone in those dark moments.”
But most notably of his speech, Mr. Grimm seemed to be directly campaigning against the President. He said multiple times that he can run on his record, unlike people like Barack Obama, who need “to spin stories and bring in former presidents,” indirectly citing Bill Clinton’s passionate convention speech on Mr. Obama’s behalf earlier this week.
He then praised the country’s ideals and declared Mr. Obama had put everything Americans care about at risk.
“In the last few years, I’m not so sure. In the last few years, I’ve seen a change,” he said. “That change has started with ‘Hope’ and ‘Change,’ that’s where it started. Because of failed policies by this administration, in the future our future is uncertain and our children’s desire to be everything they can be is in jeopardy.”
“This is not the nation that I spent most of my adult life serving. It’s not the nation I risked my life for time and time again. And if you’re listening to me Mr. President, if you’re listening, this is not what America does and it’s not what we stand for. We’re better than that! We are!” Mr. Grimm continued. “Mr. President, I hope you’re listening because the United States of America is the most exceptional, greatest nation ever known to man! And it’s not because of the government!”
Mr. Grimm, however, is not campaigning for reelection against Mr. Obama; he’s running against the Democratic nominee, Mark Murphy. (For what it’s worth, the White House was probably not listening to his speech today.) After he finished speaking, we asked the congressman about this discrepancy, causing him to argue that since all Mr. Murphy does is hold press conferences highlighting a federal investigation into his 2010 campaign’s fundraising and other issues, he’s not even worth mentioning.
“Well, I don’t really have an opponent here that’s worth running against. My opponent has no platform, all he does is sling mud,” he answered. “I don’t respect a man that doesn’t keep his word. He came out, said he wasn’t going to sling mud, and that’s all he’s done.”
It also probably doesn’t hurt that Mr. Obama is relatively unpopular in Mr. Grimm’s Staten Island-based district, which went decisively for Al Gore in 2000 yet also voted against Mr. Obama four years ago.