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GOP candidate calls for impeachment

By Gordon Dritschilo 
Herald Staff 

07/21/05 "Rutland Herald" - - A Congressional candidate who wants to impeach President Bush insists he can win the Republican primary.

Dennis Morrisseau, 62, of West Pawlet, plans to seek the Republican nomination to run for U.S. House of Representatives. The seat is being vacated by Rep. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., who plans a run for the U.S. Senate.

A central part of his platform, Morrisseau said, will be bringing articles of impeachment against Bush.

He will most likely face Maj. Gen. Martha Rainville, adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, in the September 2006 primary, along with any other candidates who might get themselves placed on the ballot between now and then.

Morrisseau said he considers himself more of a Republican than the president, and he thinks a lot of Vermont Republicans agree with him.

"This leadership isn't very Republican and I don't think it's very popular with Vermont Republicans," he said. "Republicans in this state tend to be mind-your-own-business people, keep taxes low and government small."

Morrisseau held up former Gov. Deane Davis as an example of a Vermont Republican.

"Davis was the best environmentalist we had in this state," he said. "That's Republicanism in Vermont. We like small businesses. We're afraid of outsiders and large businesses. That's what I'm about."

While 38.8 percent of Vermonters and likely the lion's share of Vermont Republicans voted for Bush, Morrisseau said he thinks there is enough anti-Bush sentiment within Republican circles for his message to find an audience.

"I think I've got a great shot," he said. "There's been movement since the election, if you track the polls. That's not just Democrats, that's Republicans, too. Down in southern Vermont, the man is reviled among Republicans."

Morrisseau was dismissive of the party leadership in Vermont.

"The Republican leadership is Bush people for the most part," he said. "Generally speaking, I don't pay much attention to party leadership. I recommend that. I recommend it highly."

Morrisseau said he imagines there is a lot of soul-searching going on among the Republicans who continue to support Bush.

"If you're an old and decent Republican and politics takes a 180 in your country, it sometimes takes a while to tell what you ought to do. It took me a while. I've been at this for years."

Morrisseau said he spends six or seven hours a day studying current affairs, reading newspapers, magazines and Web sites from varying places on the political spectrum.

Born in St. Johnsbury and growing up in Burlington, Morrisseau began his political life as a Democrat. He first gained media attention in 1968 when, as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he was threatened with court-martial for attending an anti-war demonstration in uniform.

He returned to Vermont after getting out of the Army and made his first run for Congress as a Democrat in 1970. He failed to get the party's nomination.

"The then-leadership of the Democratic Party wished only to promote Phil Hoff," he said. "They did us wrong. Being a young man and impulsive, I and a few others formed the Liberty Union Party to their left."

In 1971, the death of Sen. Winston Prouty led to a special election in Congress as Rep. Robert Stafford stepped up to take the Senate seat, and Morrisseau ran again.

"This time, I ran as a Democrat only because Liberty Union had been taken over by hard-left people," he said. "I wasn't comfortable with that I never was a hard-left person."

Again, Morrisseau lost in the primary.

"I didn't run in '72," he said. "I was a McGovern delegate at the Democratic National Convention, though I was really a McCarthy supporter. In 1974, I ran a third time and got my butt handed to me. I got out of politics."

Morrisseau opened three restaurants in Burlington, including Leunig's Bistro on Church Street. It was during this time, he said, his political transformation occurred.

"I realized what a lot of my left-wing friends thought about business, what it was and how it works, was wrong," he said. "I became a Republican."

While he has not been nearly as politically active as he was as a liberal, Morrisseau defended his Republican credentials.

"I voted for Reagan, way back there," he said. "I liked Jerry Ford, but I think I voted for Carter. I voted for Bush in 2000. In 2004, I held my nose and voted for Kerry."

With the close study he has made of current events since his retirement, Morrisseau said he felt it was time to step up to the plate once again.

"The only time I got seriously active was LBJ, Nixon and that war," he said. "Now, we have that situation again with a government running amok."

Morrisseau said he sees an administration flagrantly abusing the powers of the executive branch and a national party leadership gaining dominance over the entire government.

"I'm a Republican," he said. "I'm not a Brown Shirt. I've never, in any contemplation of U.S. history, seen anything like that asserted at any time. I don't think we're going to get much done in the way of standard politics until we clean this neo-con nest out."

While he expects many people will join his crusade, Morrisseau said he does not yet have an organization. In terms of fund-raising, he said he is taking his cue from Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

"I'm not going to try to keep up with the flows of money that'll be coming into this state, but I'm not going to get left far behind," he said. "We're not going out to fat cats, hat in hand, no way. Grassroots is the way to go."

Contact Gordon Dritschilo at gordon.dritschilo@rutlandherald.com.

2005 Rutland Herald

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