Republican Senate candidates distance themselves from ‘impeach Obama’


North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis, center, greets lawmakers in May before the opening session of the General Assembly in Raleigh. Tillis's U.S. Senate campaign says he opposes impeaching President Obama. (Associated Press)

Sarah Palin wants to impeach President Obama. But leading Republican Senate contenders in battleground contests aren't racing to her side.

The former Alaska governor's "impeach Obama" push has put Republicans in an uncomfortable position: Embrace Palin's call, and Democrats will label them extremists. Don't embrace it, and they risk alienating conservative base voters who are livid with Obama over his use of executive power.

In the fight for the Senate, Republicans are either going with option two or keeping quiet. Post Politics reached out in recent days to the campaigns of leading GOP candidates in a dozen races that are likely to decide which party will control the chamber in 2015. Some were silent, while others said they disagree with Palin. None endorsed her position.

The question ensnared Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst when a video surfaced last week of her appearing open in January to the idea of impeaching Obama over his 2012 recess appointments, which the Supreme Court ruled last month overstepped his constitutional authority. She walked back her remarks in a statement.

"To be clear, I have not seen any evidence that the president should be impeached," Ernst said.

Here is where other Republicans stand. We've divided them into three categories: those who clearly oppose impeachment; those who offered statements appearing to oppose it but whose campaigns did not clarify when pressed on the yes/no question; and those who did not respond to inquiries. We'll continue to update this rundown as more campaigns weigh in or provide more clarity.

Oppose impeachment:

-- North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis: Spokesman Daniel Keylin said Tillis opposes impeaching Obama. He added in a statement, "The solution is to change Washington and that begins with North Carolina changing their senator. Thom's focus in Washington will be getting our economy back on track, repealing and replacing Obamacare with market-based reforms, and putting a stop to President Obama's out-of-control spending."

-- Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.): "Shelley believes we should really be addressing the serious problems facing Americans today -- the economy, jobs and the War on Coal," spokeswoman Amy Graham, who confirmed that the congresswoman opposes impeachment, said in an e-mail.

-- Georgia businessman David Perdue: "The best way to rein in the overreaching Obama administration is for Republicans to take back the Senate and for Congress to restore the balance of power in our federal government," spokesman Derrick Dickey said in an e-mail. Dickey confirmed that Perdue opposes impeaching Obama.

-- Rep. Cory Gardner (Colo.): Spokesman Alex Siciliano said Gardner opposes impeachment.

Appears to oppose it but no confirmation:
-- Former South Dakota governor Mike Rounds: "I understand the frustration that people have with our president," Rounds said in a statement. "He misled the American people about his health-care law, and he is leading this country in the wrong direction. I'm focused on winning  in November and bringing South Dakota common sense to the United States Senate,  so we can not only stop the damage they are doing to our country, but reverse it."

-- Former Michigan secretary of state Terri Lynn Land: "President Obama and Congressman [Gary] Peters have held back Michigan's economy, and Terri Lynn Land believes the best way to address their failures is to elect new leadership to the United States Senate that will enact policies that put Michigan first," spokeswoman Heather Swift said in an e-mail.

No response:

Rep. Steve Daines (Mont.)
Rep. Bill Cassidy (La.)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.)
Rep. Tom Cotton (Ark.)
Former Alaska attorney general Dan Sullivan
Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.)

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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