What should have been a friendly radio chat flipped into a PR headache on Thursday for Republican congressional candidate Pedro Celis.
Celis, who is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene in the 1st Congressional District, went on KIRO radio yesterday to try to explain his vague answers in a KIRO news story about the contest. In that story, both DelBene and Celis came across as your typical controversy evading politicians. But Celis looked especially bad when he repeatedly dodged the reporter’s effort to name any specific cut to the federal budget.
“Nah, I am not going to jump into that because it is so complicated,” Celis said at one point.
So KIRO gave Celis a shot at a “do over” Thursday, inviting him on a show with two conservative-leaning hosts: Todd Herman, who used to work for the Republican National Committee, and Chris Widener, who ran for U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2010. It should have been a friendly setting. But it didn’t go well for him.
The hosts pressed Celis again on the federal budget, asking for an area he’d cut. But Celis again avoided targeting any specific program, saying he supports a balanced-budget amendment and “wouldn’t mind” an across the board cut to force efficiency throughout the government.
The hosts cut Celis off after four minutes, saying they were running late for a break. They then proceeded to trash him for much of the rest of the program.
“What we just heard… I’m left honestly frustrated,” Herman said, noting that Celis had more than a day to come up with a single “crisp answer” to the questions.
“If you want an office, and you are given 28 hours of warning that this is what we’re gonna ask you about… and you have people who are — both of us are right leaning. We might like to see the right-leaning person win… I am begging you,” Herman said.
“Did we come up with some shocking question, like how far is the earth from Saturn on a Saturday 11 years from now? Did we ask about the circumference of Dick Cheney’s head? I’m begging you…” he ranted.
Another co-host or producer jumped in at one point: “I’m gonna get rid of my ‘Vote for Pedro’ shirt!”
Celis campaign spokesman Gray Delany said the hosts went into the interview “with an agenda,” adding that Celis’ call for a balanced budget amendment was a perfectly reasonable response to their questions.
You can listen to the entire segment at KIRO’s website. (The Celis interview begins at about the 11:30 mark.)