Alan Keyes, in 2000 (referring to Hillary Clinton running for Senate seat in NY): “I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton’s willingness to go into a state she doesn’t even live in and pretend to represent people there, so I certainly wouldn’t imitate it.”

Apparently, the chance to serve as a political lawn jockey for the Bushies was too tempting for the ‘highly principled’ Keyes to pass up.

Keyes affirms Senate bid

Two-time presidential candidate Alan Keyes today officially entered the race for U.S. Senate as the Republican nominee to run against Democrat Barack Obama — the first Senate race in which the two candidates from both major parties are black.

Keyes, a former ambassador to the UN under Ronald Reagan, accepted the nomination from the Illinois Republican State Central Committee to replace primary winner Jack Ryan, who dropped out amid a sex scandal.

At a press conference, Keyes, who is from Maryland, took a significant amount of time explaining why he was deciding to parachute into Illinois to run. One of the biggest reasons, he said, was because of Obama’s support for abortion rights, especially so-called partial-birth abortions.”

Barack Obama abandons the principles of our Declaration (of Independence) and destroys the foundation of our national union,” Keyes said.

Keyes admitted his lack of knowledge of Illinois and spoke a great deal about his love of Maryland, where his father is from.

“I might not know the streets yet and the neighborhoods and all the things that go to make up the everyday life of the people,” Keyes said. “But if in fact, the people of Illinois still stand together on the American creed, still assert their right of self-government, still have the sense of responsible citizenship, then I believe I know their spirit and their conscience and their heart.”

Keyes mounted two quixotic runs for president, in 1996 and 2000. He still owes $524,000 for his failed presidential bids, according to Federal Election Commission documents. He also was defeated twice in races for the U.S. Senate seat from Maryland in 1988 and 1992.

The former cable-TV and radio talk-show host is known for a rousing speaking style steeped in Christian moral philosophy. He has a built-in base among coinservates and the Christian right.

“We do face an uphill battle, there’s no doubt,” Keyes told supporters at a rally. “So I’m not going to stand here and with tremendous ease promise you a victory. But I’ll tell you what I will promise: I will promise you a fight.”

I don’t like horse races, so I won’t offer predictions or odds on how the Senate race here in Illinois is going to go with Keyes in it. I will, however, provide my take on the status quo:

Publicly, at least, there seems to be little enthusiasm coming out of Illinois GOP representatives. Keep in mind that the IL GOP booted its star candidate (Jack Ryan) over a silly personal issue from his typically messy divorce proceedings (which occurred several years ago; what a scrumptious bit of Monicagate irony!). Also, this is the state party that wooed former NFL football coach Mike Ditka– Mike Ditka!!– in an abortive effort to field an opponent to Democrat Barack Obama. Furthermore, as those with longer memories than those of fish will recall, the IL GOP is still reeling from a credibility drain following the licenses-for-bribes scandal involving former Republican governor George Ryan. And how did Ryan complete his lame-duck tenure? By emptying out death row and placing a moratorium on the death penalty in the state. Ronald Reagan was rolling over in his grave, and he wasn’t even dead yet.

Okay, now that I’ve painted a picture of the IL GOP’s desperation, it begs the question: Why didn’t the party find a local Republican to carry the torch? I believe the recruitment of Keyes isn’t so much a local tactic as it is a national one. The IL GOP is all but crying “uncle” for the Senate race, but they are hoping that Keyes can get enough Illinois koolaid-drinkers to the polls to make hay in the local races. More importantly, though, the GOP (national, that is) wants to make sure that Illinois lock-steppers will come out and cast a ballot for their emperor-select. I think the party’s philosophy is quite shrewd; they are aiming to pull an upset and grab Illinois’ 21 electoral votes, and maybe even pull an 11th-hour coup and get Keyes into the Senate.

Will the ploy work? Anything is possible. I saw a snippet of Keyes at a press conference today (if my memory serves, he was flanked by retiring IL Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald and House Speaker Dennis Hastert), and he was a sweaty ball of nervous, evangelical energy. I don’t recall all of his exact words, but I do remember that he closed by saying that a victory for him in the Senate race would be “a victory for God.”

If you want some creepy entertainment through November, just keep your eyes and ears on the Illinois Senate race.

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