By Mark Waite
Republican congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian sought to dispel some of the campaign rhetoric, during off-the-cuff remarks Tuesday before a crowd at the home of Fely Quitevis, founding chairman of the Asian American Republicans of Nevada.
Tarkanian is in a tough election battle where a recent poll had him ahead of State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, for the newly-created congressional seat. He refuted comments by the Horsford campaign that he is a Tea Party extremist, is obliging to big banks and the rich.
“Well first of all, the Tea Party Express cost me my last race. That’s a good one,” Tarkanian said.
He was referring to the Republican primary in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, where Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle polled 70,424 votes, 40 percent, to beat out former Nevada Republican Party Chairman Sue Lowden, with 45,871 votes, 26.1 percent, and Tarkanian with 40,926 votes, 23.3 percent.
When it comes to being obliging to big banks, Tarkanian said, “The banks are suing me, I’m suing the banks. It’s a matter of my life savings. So I’m tied to big banks, that’s a good one.”
In May, a U.S. district court judge in San Diego awarded a $17 million judgment against Tarkanian’s family in a suit filed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation FDIC , the receiver for La Jolla Bank FSB, which loaned $14,568,750 to Vegas Diamond Properties. Tarkanian said his family invested in a real estate project with a developer and La Jolla Bank, but the developer misappropriated the money and went bankrupt. The Tarkanians won a court action preventing the bank from foreclosing on their property, but the FDIC closed the bank and federal law prevents his family from suing the FDIC.
“Then they’re saying I’m for the rich. This guy makes almost $200,000 per year working for a non-profit that gets paid by federal grants. I haven’t made $200,000 besides a real estate investment in my life. This is what they’re trying to paint Obama with and they’re trying to paint me with that,” Tarkanian said.
Horsford runs the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas.
Tarkanian also defended presidential candidate, former Gov. Mitt Romney, against attacks over his recent statements and attacked President Obama instead.
A recent video surfaced of Romney telling a private fundraiser in Florida that 47 percent of the people vote for Obama because they are victims dependent on the government for health care, food and housing.
“Romney obviously wasn’t very articulate in the point what he was trying to get across. At least what I believe he was trying to say was, our country has about 47 percent of the people who were going to vote for the Democratic side, for whatever reasons they are, they cater to certain special interest groups, they’re going to vote for him Obama ,” Tarkanian said.
“There are a lot of people in our country who are dependent on government, at least some type of government aid. We had a 40 percent increase in food stamps since Obama has taken office. We have a higher unemployment rate, extended unemployment, we could go on and on and on,” he said.
But Tarkanian admitted trying to lump 47 percent of the people together wasn’t the right thing. The fight will be for the 10 percent of voters who are still undecided, he said, adding he didn’t think the presidential debates beginning Oct. 3 would be that much of a deciding factor.
Tarkanian turned the tables on what he called “horrendous things” Obama has said. He referred to a television talk show Sunday in which a guest said the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya was caused by a spontaneous response to a very offensive film.
“Our country is based upon the foundation of freedom of speech. They say bad things about Baptists, Jews, Christians, so we’re supposed to then apologize because it’s Islam?” Tarkanian asked. “He spent $70,000 on TV apologizing for a film that was created the government has already repudiated and had nothing to do with?”
While the media has done a good job painting Romney as being ultra rich and out of touch with everyday people, Tarkanian said Romney donated 17 percent of his income to charity, a much bigger percentage than Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden.
Tarkanian asked, “Who gives 17 percent of their income to charity if you don’t have compassion for people who aren’t fortunate enough?”
Tarkanian noted the failed solar production company Solyndra that got a $535 million government loan, then declared bankruptcy, were big Obama contributors. He questioned what other companies got government loans to start up their business.
Tarkanian advocated a Republican plan to cut tax breaks and loopholes, while reducing tax rates that will allow companies to invest.
An audience member criticized members of Congress who get elected, then forget who elected them. Tarkanian said he doesn’t care about making a big splash or appearing on television if he’s elected.
“I want that opportunity. I worked very hard for nine years to get in this position, to have a chance to win and be a public servant to this community. There aren’t many people that would put up with what I have, my wife and kids, over these last nine years. So I certainly want it. I certainly think I showed resiliency,” Tarkanian said.
Before the 2010 U.S. Senate race, he ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2006, winning the Republican primary but losing in the general election to Democrat Ross Miller.
“Do you try to protect your seat and play the game or do you try to do something real positive, beneficial? To me I think the most satisfactory thing you can have in our society and our lives is if you feel good about what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished in your lives.”