In his first appearance since losing the 1st Congressional District Republican primary Tuesday, Vaughn Ward said he learned how much he loved Idaho during the race and that he doesn't care about the mainstream media. Ward appeared at Wednesday's Republican Unity Rally on the steps of the Idaho Capitol building in Boise to show his support for state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, who won the contest between the two men.
Ward took a limited amount of questions from reporters and was quickly herded away by Mike Tracy, his campaign spokesman, after about two and a half minutes of questioning. Ward thanked his supporters for their efforts over the past 14 months of the race. "We built a great campaign, and I'm proud of the work that went into it," Ward said. When queried by reporters about some communication issues involving a speech he gave in March that contained language similar to a speech given by then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2004, Ward said that some aspects of his campaign could have been handled better. "I accept full responsibility for everything that happens on the campaign," Ward said.
He also commented on the resignation of his former campaign manager, Ryan O'Barto, who was responsible for recycling a press release, to the dismay of the local media, and cribbing policy positions from the websites of other congressmen. Initial reports said that Ward fired O'Barto for the miscues, but Ward confirmed on a local radio station the day it happened that O'Barto had resigned, not wanting to be a distraction to the campaign effort. "The staffing issues, we took care of those, and we moved forward. Unfortunately it was too little too late."
As for his future, Ward said he plans to remain in the state. "Idaho is my home," Ward said. In the upcoming weeks, he said that he will take some time off to go camping with his wife and kids in north Idaho. He would not say if he has political plans for the future.
Tuesday night, comedian Jay Leno played a video mash-up of Ward's speech in which he used some language from Obama's address. One reporter asked Ward what he thought about the video becoming nationally recognized. "You know, I don't care what the national press says. I realize that some of the mainstream media out there, they have an agenda, and I'm fine with that," Ward said.
Ward did keep a promise made earlier in the campaign. He told those gathered at the Capitol that Labrador has his full support November. "I said I would and I do (support Labrador)," he said. Labrador moves on to face Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick in the 1st District.
See Ward's complete remarks to reporters here: