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Outspoken Georgia Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Broun announced earlier this month his intentions to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss.
Since announcing, Broun has been careful to publicly present himself as a collegial congressman. In public comments, Broun has touted his willingness to work with more liberal lawmakers to solve some of the country’s biggest problems. This is a far cry from Broun’s typical fiery demeanor and anti-Obama rhetoric that has come to symbolize his congressional leadership.
In a fundraiser letter that surfaced recently, Broun went back to his roots. The four-page letter includes a rant against President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders for "running roughshod" over the Constitution. In the letter, Broun makes a point of emphatically laying out his conservative beliefs and voting record. He also calls other conservatives like former Florida congressman Allen West and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky his friends.
Broun also aligns himself with Rand Paul’s father, former Texas congressman and Libertarian Ron Paul: "Truth be told," Broun says in the letter, "except for foreign policy, Ron Paul’s voting record and mine are virtually identical."
Politicians frequently align themselves with other party favorites, with varying results. PolitiFact Georgia examined whether Broun was correct about his voting record, and similarity to Ron Paul.
Both Broun and Paul have embraced conservative positions on issues such as the role of government and government spending. In addition to their political opinions, the men share medical backgrounds. Paul was a military flight surgeon who went on to become an obstetrician-gynecologist. Broun practiced general medicine and operated a business based strictly on house calls.
Paul served in the U.S. House on three separate occasions. His latest term, from 1997 to 2013, overlapped about six years with Broun’s congressional tenure, which began in 2007.
Using the congressional tracking site, VoteSmart.org, PolitiFact reviewed 383 votes made by both men during their concurrent time in office, beginning in July 2007. That search revealed 42 times that the congressmen voted different ways on the same bill. Taking into account Broun’s foreign policy caveat, the number drops to 23 opposing votes. PolitiFact Georgia assumed votes involving defense topics as foreign policy.
Based on those numbers, 6 percent of votes cast by Broun differed from those cast by Paul.
We called and emailed questions about the letter to Broun’s staff for comment, but received no response.
"Paul has this image of being conservative, so it’s not surprising that they would agree on many things except foreign policy," said Kennesaw State University professor Kerwin Swint. "On foreign policy, Paul is to the left of Obama."
Last week, TheTeaParty.net, a conservative grassroots group, endorsed Broun in the U.S. Senate race. Broun will be up against well-funded "establishment moderates" and "deep-pocketed country club fundraisers like Karl Rove," organization founder Todd Cefaratti said in a news release, but that Broun’s campaign will have the support of thousands of citizens worried about the country’s future.
Broun said except for foreign policy, his voting record and Ron Paul’s voting record were virtually identical. The men’s congressional terms overlapped from 2007 to January 2013. During that time, PolitiFact Georgia found that the congressmen’s votes differed just 6 percent of the time after the foreign policy exclusion.
We rated Broun’s statement True.
Staff writer Karishma Mehrotra contributed to this article.
Project Vote Smart, Ron Paul’s voting record and Paul Broun’s voting record, research Feb. 13, 2013
Georgia Tipsheet, "Socialist hunting: Broun donor letter talks of Obama barbs, West support," James Richardson, Feb. 13, 2013
Email interview, Elizabeth Beadle, spokeswoman for former U.S. Rep. Allen West, Feb. 13, 2013
Phone interview, Kerwin Swint, political science professor, Kennesaw State University, Feb. 14, 2013
Daily Kos, "Paul Broun wants to be a senator because Obama’s a ‘Marxist-Leninist’ who rules with ‘iron fist,’" Feb. 14, 2013
News release, TheTeaParty.net, "Broun for Senate," Feb. 22, 2013
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