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Repeal impeachment resolution? SD candidates sidestep question

Former Sen. Larry Pressler told President Obama last week he is “horrendously embarrassed” by an action of the South Dakota Republican Party he used to represent in Congress.

In two press conferences, Pressler rallied against a June 21 vote at the South Dakota GOP convention calling for Obama’s impeachment, a move many see as merely the latest salvo in the nation’s increasingly vitriolic political discourse.

Pressler, a three-term senator who has spent years teaching and consulting abroad, sees international implications and was contacted by people he has met in other countries who read the news.

“We might think that’s kind of a funny thing, but that went all over the country and all over the world. This is not sound thinking, and it doesn’t reflect well upon our state,” Pressler said. “There are no impeachable grounds, and it’s an insult to him. There’s almost been dead silence from Gov. Rounds. We don’t want South Dakota saying to President Obama we want him impeached.”

In calling for the resolution’s repeal, Pressler called on all of South Dakota’s top Republican leaders to denounce it, and he singled out former-Gov. Mike Rounds by name, as the two are opponents in the state’s 2014 U.S. Senate campaign. Pressler, a former Republican, is running as an independent. Rounds is the Republican nominee and likely frontrunner.

Rounds, South Dakota’s governor and the state’s Republicans in Congress sidestepped direct questions about whether they believe the resolution should be repealed and issued generalized statements that reference the impeachment resolution.

Rounds issued this written response to questions from The Daily Republic, a statement campaign officials said was issued shortly after the impeachment resolution vote:

“I understand the frustration that people have with our president. He misled the American people about his health care law, and he is leading this country in the wrong direction. I’m focused on winning in November and bringing South Dakota common sense to the United States Senate, so we can not only stop the damage they are doing to our country, but reverse it.”

Independent Senate candidate Gordon Howie, a former Republican legislator, said he doesn’t see practical results coming out of the resolution but doesn’t oppose it.

“An impeachment resolution doesn’t do much,” Howie said. “I agree with people who suggest we need to get rid of this president, but unfortunately that doesn’t solve the whole problem. We need to get rid of the whole team.”

Howie named Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and also Congress’ top Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland denounced the resolution as soon as it happened, both on his campaign website and on the cable news channel MSNBC.

Weiland told cable host Ed Schultz that he believes there will be consequences for Rounds and other GOP leaders who don’t speak out against the resolution.

“The fact that they didn’t stand up and say they opposed it, didn’t utter one peep against it, is a real stain on the people of South Dakota,” Weiland said. “I don’t believe you can get away with that kind of vitriol and hate and get elected.”

Second-term Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. and potential 2016 presidential candidate, issued a statement through his spokeswoman, Rachel Millard: “Senator Thune views this as an indicator of the high level of frustration among South Dakotans who are currently struggling under the weight of the Obama economy. He also believes the best way to effect change is through elections, which is why he’s working to elect strong, Republican candidates to Congress this year.”

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said she favors congressional investigations and avoided mentioning the impeachment resolution in her written statement.

“I am so frustrated by many of the president’s actions. He has repeatedly disregarded the legislative process. But I believe the best way for Congress to hold President Obama accountable is to continue the aggressive committee oversight and investigations into the administration’s actions as we are doing with the ongoing VA scandal, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, and Benghazi.”

A spokesman for Gov. Dennis Daugaard declined to issue any statement, saying the question was more appropriate for members of Congress. Tony Venhuizen, Daugaard’s communications director, said only that Daugaard “agrees with Rep. Noem and Sen. Thune.”

None of the marquis-name Republicans — Rounds, Thune, Noem nor Daugaard — were at the state convention when the impeachment resolution vote was taken and, so, none of them cast a vote for or against the resolution.