Commentary: RINOs seem to be everywhere these days

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramApril 2, 2012 

Almost 20 years after the first sighting, some Republicans now find RINOs everywhere.

When the term "Republican In Name Only" emerged in 1993, it referred to a former Democrat who had switched parties or a Republican who supported Democratic campaigns.

Now, candidates who have been lifelong Republicans are labeled RINOs simply because their views of free enterprise and thrifty government don't match some crank's.

"We're all sick of it," said Frisco Republican Jean McIver, who represents much of Tarrant and Denton counties on the party executive committee.

"I kind of bristle when I see the word," said McIver, a former Ron Paul campaign coordinator friendly with Tea Party groups. "It's slapped around to disparage good people without explanation. Nobody really takes it seriously anymore."

The RINO of the moment is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. He joins South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and a host of Texans who are loyal business conservatives but happen to actually like Mitt Romney.

"People overuse it for political advantage," said Steve Hollern of Fort Worth, a former county Republican chairman. "A RINO is somebody who supports Democrats. Romney is not a RINO. He's a moderate. It's not the same thing."

The term came up before 1993, but that was the year California Republican Celeste Greig handed out "[No] RINO" buttons to oppose Los Angeles mayoral candidate Richard Riordan, a Republican but a Democratic contributor.

"Some people are misusing the word," Greig said by phone from Chatsworth, Calif. "You can disagree on issues and stand by the party. We don't even agree with spouses all the time."

Adrian Murray, a founding member of the 9-12 Project Fort Worth and author of the new book Common Ground America, said he doesn't like the term RINO because "the Republican Party can't only be the right wing."

The word refers to "Democrats who were ticket-switchers," he said.

"Just because somebody disagrees with you, that doesn't make them an adversary."

You rarely see a real RINO.

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