Meet Obama’s Primary Challenger

Once it became certain that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) wouldn’t be challenging President Obama from the left next year, as some liberals had hoped, it seemed like the president could look forward to smooth sailing through an uncontested nomination process. But it looks like the ride won’t be without a small bump. Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry has announced his intention to challenge Obama in the Democratic primary, and he’s going to start running ads Thursday in Iowa, where he’ll be campaigning at a homeschooling convention.

Terry made a name for himself as the founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, but even the pro-lifers there found his antics a little extreme (he essentially justified the murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller), and they broke with him years ago. Since then, he’s been a one-man anti-abortion sideshow, appearing at tea party rallies dressed in chains and a death mask, getting arrested at Obama’s speech at Notre Dame in 2009, acting out granny-killing death panel skits to protest health care reform, and generally making a nuisance of himself.

But lest you think that Terry is a single issue presidential candidate, his ads will denounce the president on a host of issues—everything from Obama’s position on gays to the Wall Street bailout, and from China to oil drilling in the arctic. Terry claims that he will be expressing what Republican leaders should be saying but are too afraid to. “I am simply saying what John Boehner or Mitt Romney should say daily; apparently they do not posses the courage or clarity of thought,” he said in a press release announcing the new ads.

Terry is aware he has no hope of defeating Obama. “I’m not delusional,” he says, in a video message to tea partiers. (He claims he was a tea partier before the tea party was hip.) Terry explains that beating Obama is not the point. “The point is to beat him up.” He plans to publicize his campaign by, among other things, running ads during next year’s Superbowl showing photos of dismembered fetuses.

This won’t be Terry’s first run for office. He’s run twice before, once for Congress in upstate New York in 1988 (read a funny story about this race here, written back then by Mother Jones bureau chief David Corn). In 2006, he mounted a primary challenge to a Florida state senator who’d blocked legislation designed to keep Terri Schiavo alive. Both times he ran as a Republican. But apparently, he’s still mad that the GOP not only failed to support his campaigns but actively obstructed them, so this time around, he’s decided to torment the Democrats. Which is probably a good thing. He will at least give some of those poor reporters covering the Democratic primary something to do for the next year. If nothing else, Terry can be pretty entertaining. Check out Terry’s new Iowa ad here:

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