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I'm used to being underestimated: Rae

[PoliticsWatch Posted 1:50 p.m. April 25, 2006]

Liberal leadership candidate Bob Rae.

OTTAWA  — Liberal leadership candidate Bob Rae has a message for all those observers who believe his five year stint as Ontario premier is more than enough baggage to weigh down his leadership aspirations.   
  
Go ahead and underestimate me.

A day after his official launch of his leadership campaign, Rae came to Ottawa to meet with Parliamentary Press Gallery reporters. 

Rae said Tories that are secretly hoping he wins the leadership race because of the baggage he gained when he was premier of Ontario during the recession of the early 1990s can go ahead and root for him. 

"Well have I got a surprise for them, is all I have to say."

"I'm used to being underestimated. I have no problem being underestimated. Let's just see what happens," said Rae, who pulled off a surprise majority win in the 1990 Ontario election.  

When Rae pulled off that surprise victory in the 1990s, he was largely seen as an outsider. 

However, Rae is now running as a Liberal and has the backing of some of the biggest insiders in Ottawa in recent years, including his brother John Rae of Power Corporation and Eddie Goldenberg, who was a policy advisor and chief of staff for former prime minister Jean Chretien. 

Senator Mac Harb, a long-time supporter of Chretien, was in attendance at Rae's press conference at the National Press Theatre.

Rae made it clear that he was back in politics to stay and would serve in any capacity for any other leader if he does not win the party's leadership race. 

"I'm serious about this commitment. It's a change in my life, but I'm ready to make it," he said.

Since leaving politics a year after his NDP party was defeated in 1995, Rae has spent some of his time as a lawyer and consultant at the Toronto firm Goodmans LLP, where he is a partner. 

Rae said he will sever much of his business activity, but will remain a partner at the firm.

"I'm not lobbying," he said. "I'm still a partner at the Goodman's law firm. I'm still doing some legal work, but I'm not doing any lobbying."

Rae says he has not lobbied in "for some time." He also says he has resigned from any public boards that he is on. 

He also dismissed some suggestions by reporters that the winner of the Liberal leadership contest could be leader of the opposition for at least six years because some believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper could win a majority government in the next election campaign. 

Rae noted that when he led the Ontario NDP to victory in the 1990 provincial election the first polls of the campaign had his party at 20 per cent. Five weeks later, the NDP was at 37 per cent and had won a majority government. 

"Moods change very quickly, polls change very quickly. I'm a little surprised some time that people who are seasoned observers are giving the game away," he said.

"A lot of things can happen. You can go from hero to zero from zero to hero in a very short space of time. I've seen it and I've lived it."

: Related Links

> Liberal leadership race 2006- Looking past Chretien-Martin era 

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