The U.S. Senate race in Arizona has become increasingly competitive, with Republicans increasingly concerned that former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D) may upset Rep. Jeff Flake (R). Last night, in a televised debate, the Republican congressman didn't help his case.
For those who can't watch clips online, the moderator asked, "Did you sign the Grover Norquist no-tax pledge?" Flake replied, "No." Asked if he would sign such a pledge, the congressman again said, "No." Flake added, "The only pledge I'd sign is a pledge to sign no more pledges."
That's a nice sentiment, of course, but there's a small problem: Flake is already listed as one of the 238 members of the current Congress who's already signed the pledge.
So, which is it? The congressman's spokesperson told The Hill that Flake signed an older version of Norquist's pledge, not the newest one, so technically, Flake wasn't exactly lying on statewide television four weeks before the election. "Jeff Flake has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in the past, but the language of the pledge was changed last year," the spokesperson said.
OK, so which part of the new version of the pledge does Flake oppose? According to the spokesperson, the congressman doesn't like the language that pledges to "oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."
That might be more compelling if the identical language wasn't in the original pledge that Flake signed.
The congressman's spokesperson "was unable to explain the discrepancy." Imagine that.