More intestinal groans from the national GOP as moderates and social conservatives compete for control of the Republican party, and there in the fray is David Vitter, Louisiana’s junior senator.

Vitter this week fired back at Ohio Sen. John Voinovich, who accused his Southern colleagues of ruining the party’s national standing. “They get on TV and go ‘errrr, errrrr...,’” Voinovich complains in an article in The Washington Times. “People hear them and say, ‘These people, they’re Southerners. The party’s being taken over by Southerners. What the hell have they got to do with Ohio?” Voinovich, who is not seeking re-election in 2010, was directing his ire at Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma — DeMint for his “Waterloo” comment and Coburn for his prognostication that the White House plan to cover the uninsured would actually kill more Americans.

But Vitter threw himself on Voinovich’s water balloon, calling the Buckeye pol “... a moderate, really wishy-washy,” a sentiment that has been directed in recent months at midstream Republicans by their more conservative counterparts, Arlen Specter — who switched parties in the spring, citing a rightward drift of the GOP — being a noteworthy example.

“I’m on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values,” Vitter says in The Times article. “There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. We strayed from them in the past few years, and that’s why we performed so badly in the national elections.”

The Louisiana Democratic Party, which sprinkles on the meat tenderizer every time Vitter utters the word “values,” hoping to soften him up for next year’s election, seized on the comment. “If David Vitter can lead his party back to their conservative values, maybe Larry Craig can give them tips on bathroom etiquette and Mark Sanford can recommend a really good restaurant in Buenos Aires,” jokes state Dem spokesman Kevin Franck in a press release.

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