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Thu Jul 12, 2012, 05:44 PM

A Prophet Crying in the Wilderness: Montana's Governor Vows to Continue His Fight Against Citizens U

"I'm just a rancher who ended up governor of Montana," Brian Schweitzer is fond of saying. In a world where even Mitt Romney paints himself as a populist with humble roots, one might reasonably be skeptical of Schweitzer's self-portrait. The governor of the Big Sky State, however, appears to be the real deal - a plainspoken 51-year-old farmer and irrigation engineer, who had never held public office before he ran for the highest post in Montana eight years ago.

At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Schweitzer may rival New Jersey's Chris Christie as the nation's most physically imposing head of a state. He is also arguably the most accessible, keeping his door in the Capitol building in Helena open to ordinary Montanans, who reportedly show up without appointments to chat with the governor.

When he was elected in 2004, the liberal Democrat with libertarian leanings was hailed as a harbinger of blue hopes in this overwhelmingly red part of the country. There was speculation that Schweitzer might someday be a potential presidential contender. But the Montana governor has proven to be anything but a team player. To the chagrin of his own party's faithful, he told The New York Times in 2006 that if Mitt Romney got the nomination, he might consider supporting him (some suggested that Schweitzer was angling to be Romney's running mate).

Since then, Schweitzer has distanced himself from Romney, who he says has "taken a right turn" on immigration policy and military expansionism. The outspoken governor also recently got into hot water when he suggested that Romney's family roots in "a polygamy commune in Mexico" might hurt him in the upcoming presidential contest.


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