Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) announced Wednesday during a nationally televised GOP presidential candidates' forum in New Hampshire that he will seek reelection to his central Orange County seat while pursuing his underdog bid for the presidency.
Dornan, who recently learned that California state law allows him to run for both offices simultaneously, said he will follow the lead of Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, who is running for reelection to his Senate seat while campaigning for President.
"I can do both," Dornan said in announcing his bid for his 10th term to Congress. "And tonight, I tell you I am filing for my seat in Congress, as Phil has, and I will continue" in the presidential race.
"I'm going to do both with vigor, and I now have the money to go all the way through February," when, Dornan predicted, there would be just two GOP candidates left standing: Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas and one other. "If it is I, I will give Bob Dole the toughest race of his life."
Near the bottom of public opinion polls and in campaign fund-raising, Dornan had anticipated dropping out of the presidential contest if he did not raise enough money in 20 states to qualify for federal matching funds. However, he said, his presidential campaign has met the qualifications for federal funds, which he said were designed "to keep people who are not millionaires" in the race. The next campaign finance reports are due this week.
While other presidential candidates were asked about the economy, federal budget cuts and Bosnia, New Hampshire television reporter and forum moderator Carl Cameron asked Dornan about issues Dornan had prepared for before the debate: his conservatism and his anger at the O.J. Simpson trial verdict.
"If Phil Gramm is 'cool' because he was 'conservative before it was cool,' then I am 'early man' as a conservative because I am everything that's loved by conservatives in an election year," Dornan said of his social conservatism. "I have been there."
The Orange County congressman also said the Simpson verdict was not based on race, but was a "rich man's verdict, just as millionaire [presidential candidates] are freezing out people from the House of Commons [as he calls the House of Representatives] in a race like this."
Dornan added that most of the rest of the GOP presidential pack "is more representative of O.J. Simpson's peers than was that humble jury that we saw who based their decision not on reason but on emotion."