Meet Brian Schweitzer, The Montana Political Anomaly Keen To Run Against Hillary In 2016
Brian Schweitzer is an anomaly in modern politics. A Democrat, the former Montana governor is also (very) pro-gun, makes very blunt and candid comments in public — oh, and Brian Schweitzer wants to be president. As the 2016 presidential elections continue to firm up and all eyes continue to focus on Hillary Clinton, Schweitzer could jump into the mix and shake things up, but how seriously should we take him?
Schweitzer has been described as "a cowboy-politician who has wildly heterodox policy positions" by the National Journal. Besides his policy stances, which are as unpredictable as the Wild West, the man can come off brash, loud-mouthed, and sometimes abrasive. He has infamously used a branding iron to veto Republican-controlled legislature. Schweitzer also has a notorious reputation for exhibiting machismo during interviews, chainsawing a fence, snowmobiling on frozen lakes, and riding horses with reporters. If they ever make a biopic about Schweitzer, Randy Quaid should play him.
In light of his recent comments about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's demeanor, however, many are wondering if the politician's lack of a filter and maverick style can be taken seriously for a presidential run. When National Journal reporter Marin Cogan asked him about Cantor's defeat, Schweitzer said candidly, "Don't hold this against me, but I'm going to blurt it out. How do I say this ... men in the South, they are a little effeminate." He continued, "If you were just a regular person, you turned on the TV, and you saw Eric Cantor talking, I would say — and I'm fine with gay people, that's all right — but my gaydar is 60-70 percent."
All sounds a bit Drunk Uncle, right?
As amusing as these crotchety, out-of-touch comments can be around the Thanksgiving table, some aren't so sure they'd be good for the White House. But in case he does decide to run, let's get to know Schweitzer — in all his craziness — a little better.
He's Really, Really Into Guns
For a Democrat, he's on a rather lonely end of the spectrum that staunchly supports the Second Amendment. During the George W. Bush era, which helped to create the contrast between Republicans' all-American cowboy persona and the Democrats' stuffy elitism, Schweitzer was making campaign ads in which he shot skeet, earning him the respect of the NRA.
In 2009, Schweitzer signed into act the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, which states that firearms manufactured in Montana and stay in the state are exempt from federal firearms regulations.
Since the Sandy Hook shootings, however, Schweitzer has softened on his stance, agreeing to support bills that call for stricter background checks.
He's Been Very Critical of Obama
According to the Washington Post, when MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin asked Schweitzer about his thoughts on the Obama administration, he paused before answering, "My mother, God rest her soul, told me 'Brian, if you can’t think of something nice to say about something change the subject.'" He did no such thing, however, as he went on to lambaste the president, criticizing Obamacare — he believes it should be replaced with a single-payer health-care system — the NSA revelations, and Obama's foreign policy.
He's also called Obama a corporatist, telling Time that the president "roll[ed] over and [got] scratched on the belly by corporations like a fat dog."
And Hillary Clinton
In his interview with TIME, Schweitzer said about Clinton, "You can’t be the candidate that shakes down more money on Wall Street than anybody since, I don’t know, Woodrow Wilson, and be the populist. You can’t be the one to say we’re going to focus on rebuilding America if you voted to go to the Iraq war."
When Salon asked him what he thought of Clinton's statement that she didn't rescind her vote for the war sooner to keep faith with the troops, Schweitzer unloaded his opinion. "I refused to say the things to them that politicians like to say: 'Your son died making this country free,' as if it was WWII or the Revolutionary War," he told Salon. "I wouldn’t say that because I didn’t believe it. What I did was, I hugged them and said 'I don’t know. I don’t know what God’s plan was. I don’t know why this happened to your family.'"
He's Made Some Slightly Misogynistic Comments
After Senator Dianne Feinstein accused the CIA of spying on congressional staffers investigating the agency's treatment of suspected terrorists during the Bush administration, Schweitzer called her out on her hypocrisy in not-so-delicate terms.
"She was the woman who was standing under the streetlight with her dress pulled all the way up over her knees," he told the National Journal. "And now she says, 'I'm a nun,' when it comes to this spying!" He then added, "I mean, maybe that's the wrong metaphor — but she was all in!"
Images: Don O'Brien/Flickr