Christine O’Donnell isn’t the only Delaware Tea Party candidate making waves.
The seat in the House of Representatives currently held by Republican Mike Castle — who was defeated by O’Donnell in Tuesday’s Senatorial primary — is also up for grabs. The Republican primary for that office was won by Tea Partier Glen Urquhart, and it turns out that his political positions may be even more unique than O’Donnell’s.
“Do you know, where does this phrase ‘separation of church and state’ come from?” Urquhart asked at a campaign event last April. “It was not in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. … The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State ask them why they’re Nazis.”
“My jaw dropped when I heard it,” rival candidate Kevin Wade told Delaware Online. “And he was emphatic about it — it was not like a slip of the tongue. He got applause from half the crowd, and that disturbed me. I’d say half the room was stunned and the other half applauded.”
According to Delaware Online, “Urquhart says the statement was taken out of context and that he did not explain his point very well. If he could do it over, he said, he would add more historical context and explain why he rejects Hitler’s take on the relationship between government and the church.”
“I didn’t mean to suggest — and I am not suggesting — that people who are liberals are Nazis,” Urquhart told the paper. He did continue to insist, however, that “the Nazis used the same separation-of-church-and-state rhetoric for a very, very bad purpose” and charged that “the pendulum has swung dramatically against the Christian faith. It’s almost become a whipping boy in our society.”
That explanation did not satisfy his critics. “Urquhart has had trouble with Thomas Jefferson before,” blogger Celia Cohen noted. “Judging by the campaign Web site, Urquhart seems to think Jefferson included ‘life’ in the unalienable rights of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ in the Declaration of Independence because he was against abortion.”
Other bloggers pointed out that Urquhart was correct about Jefferson only in the technical sense that Jefferson’s exact phrase in his letter to the Danbury Baptists was “building a wall of separation between church and State.” The concept is deeply rooted in America and goes back to Roger Williams, who founded the colony of Rhode Island in the 1600s.
Now that Tea Partier Urquhart has defeated the candidate backed by the Republican establishment and will be running against former Delaware Lt. Gov. John Carney. his remarks are drawing fresh scrutiny.
“There aren’t many ‘red’ House seats Dems hope to flip this year, but this is clearly one of them,” Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen noted on Friday. “A survey this week from Public Policy Polling showed Carney leading Urquhart by double digits, 48% to 37%.”
And at PPP’s own website, Tom Jensen explained that “in contrast to most races across the country Carney has a more unified base, winning 75% of Democrats to Urquhart’s 66% of Republicans. Urquhart does have a 38-36 lead with independents but that’s not nearly as large as most GOP candidates across the country have and certainly not as large as he needs to win a strongly Democratic leaning state like Delaware.”
One anonymous commenter on Jensen’s post, however, suggested, “That’s not a particularly strong result for Carney. Weak favorability, running against a decent opponent with a supercharged conservative base?”
If the commenter’s assertion is correct — and some of the other comments disputed it — Urquhart’s “Hitler” remark could yet become a factor in the campaign.
The following video is from a Republican candidates forum in April 2010 and was posted to YouTube on May 31, 2010.