Meet the 'End Times' Novelist Adored By Glenn Beck Who Is on His Way to Congress
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Stewart stands by his version of events. "We don't fear this FEC complaint at all," he says. "Not at all. Because we know the charges against us are absolutely crazy."
Stewart has furiously denied any involvement in the mailer. "Heavens, we would have been Jason Bourne times 10 to be able to pull that thing off."
Utah Democrats, meanwhile, are preparing for the worst. They point to a handful of positions Stewart has taken that would put him to the right of many of his conservative colleagues. He has called for all federal lands to be returned to the states and written that gay soldiers must be prohibited from serving in order to "ensure our national defense." If he doesn't have a Todd Akin moment before he gets to Washington, his critics says, he'll be a powder keg waiting to explode when he does.
But mostly, they're concerned about what he really believes. "[Y]ou have this mystic kind of Mormonism, and the last days and the kind of fulfilling of the prophecy from the Chris Stewart point of view that adds this eerie dimension to his candidacy," says Jim Dabakis, the chairman of the Utah Democratic Party. He adds, "His ideas about religion are so out there that if he starts peddling all that stuff in Washington, he will do serious damage to the reputation of the state, to the district, and most seriously to the LDS church."
To Utah Democrats, Stewart's books aren't just how he makes a living; they're a political statement. "He is Glenn Beck on steroids," says Joe Hatch, a former Democratic Salt Lake County council member, who concedes that Stewart is a shoo-in to be elected.
Stewart bristles at the Beck comparison. "I do think for him to say, 'Chris is my guy,' is probably an exaggeration," Stewart says. "He's never formally endorsed me." He suggests the talk show host has a more pessimistic take on the country than he does and insists that despite what his critics say, he's actually quite moderate. "You'll be disappointed to hear this, but we've never been a tea party candidate," he says.
According to Stewart, he's just a mainstream Republican who just wants Washington to get its books in order. "What I've said isn't anything more dramatic or more than what a lot of other people are saying as well," he says. "It's just that we can't continue to have 1.2-, 1.3-, 1.4-trillion dollar deficits for the foreseeable future and just pretend that that's not gonna matter because it will." As evidence, Stewart points to a July profile in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, in which Stuart Rothenberg, the veteran political observer, praised him as "a reasonable legislator who understands that there is a difference between what he wants and what can be achieved."
When they appear together in public, though, Stewart and Beck certainly seem to be fellow travelers. After devoting hours of airtime to plugging Stewart's book, in March Beck traveled to Utah for a fundraiser and book signing for the Great and Terrible series, newly reissued by Beck's publishing company and, according to Beck, stripped of its explicitly Mormon theology. "He has rewritten this to make it for a mainstream [audience]," Beck said. "I've run it through all my evangelical friends I have and asked, 'Would you read this? Does it sound too Mormonish for you?' Because, come on, it's God that is telling us these things. And he speaks through the multitude."
Beck cracked a brief joke about the perils of publishing an e-book about an electromagnetic pulse—"if you get halfway through and the EMP goes off, you're like, 'Oh crap!'"—and, when it was over, turned the floor over to his sidekick, Pat Gray.