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August 14, 2008

Smith Out Of McCain Camp

Oregon Senator Gordon Smith is not shy about his associations with Democrats, citing work with John Kerry and Barack Obama in his most recent advertisement. That's not surprising for a moderate Republican running for re-election in an increasingly Democratic state in which Obama is leading the latest polls.

What is surprising is the lengths to which Smith has gone to distance himself from his own party. Once listed as a member of McCain's national campaign committee (According to a list updated as of August 2, 2007) and one of the Arizonan's earliest backers, Smith will not serve in any capacity, official or honorary, for the GOP nominee.

Smith spokeswoman Lindsay Gilbride told The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes that Smith is "very supportive" of McCain, but that he never had an official role with the campaign and that no distance was intended. Still, it is exceedingly rare for a sitting senator not to serve in some honorary capacity on their party's nominee's campaign.

Smith is one of more than half a dozen incumbent senators facing re-election who will not head to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, his campaign announced last week, preferring instead to remain in Oregon to campaign.

Instead of Smith, McCain's campaign will be chaired by the state's last Republican Governor, Victor Atiyeh, who served two terms ending in 1987. Rep. Greg Walden, the only Republican among the state's five-member House delegation, is an honorary co-chair.