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Q & A

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

I may have told you that I flew to California on Friday to give a speech to the Lincoln Club of Northern California. These are Republicans from the Bay Area and north who put their money where their politics are and help fund candidates they think can win elections.


It was one those very rare occasions when the audience was fine but I stunk out the joint. To the point where I am not going to bill them for my fee. Seriously. I was awful.

The best part of the otherwise painful experience was the question and answer period when they asked some pretty good questions and I gave some pretty good answers. That is what I want to tell you about today.

One person asked "What is our message?"

That was a good question. I said "You are setting the bar too high. There isn't ONE message which will be the magic bullet and suddenly make everyone realize they should be a Republican."

There is not ONE message which will suit all voters. The notion of being a majority party is the edges move farther and farther apart, so there have to be messages which will appeal to voters all along the continuum.

No one has gone to Ford …

No one has gone to Ford and said, "Why can't you build a car which will appeal to everyone?" Ford builds everything from a "Focus" compact to an "Expedition" SUV to a "F-450" heavy duty pick up truck. Different people need different things in a vehicle.

Different people are looking for different things in their political affiliation.


I said, during my remarks, that there was a problem in DC with the guys trying to elbow each other out of the way to be the "Voice of the Republican Party." I didn't think it would be such a bad thing if we had a chorus as long as everyone was signing off the same page.

A woman suggested that "guy" thing was part of the problem. Maybe so. I wasn't endorsing an all-male chorus, I was merely reporting.

The GOP doesn't have to hit itself over the head with a gender-based ball bat. The Dems had a real shot at nominating a woman - a highly qualified woman - but decided to nominate Barack Obama, instead.

So, Republicans don't have to sit for being called, nor for thinking of themselves as being, the party of gender discrimination.

Another person asked who I thought would be the GOP nominee in 2012. If I had bet, in March of 2005 that a guy named Barack would be the next President of the United States I would owned his car, his house, his dog and his club membership.

I finished with one of my favorite maxims: If you want to make a difference, win an election. Tomorrow, the special election in NY 20 will be held to fill the seat left vacant by the appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate Seat.


NY 20 is a Republican-leaning district. According to an AP piece by Valerie Bauman, "The district has more than 196,000 registered Republicans, about 125,000 Democrats and 118,000 unaffiliated voters."

If the Republican candidate, Jim Tedisco wins, that will be a leading indicator for the 2010 mid-terms that without Obama on the ticket (or George W. Bush in the White House) Republican-leaning districts will go back to voting for the GOP candidate.

If, however, the Democrat Scott Murphy wins, it will be seen as proof that Republicans have done nothing to attract independent voters and, more worrisome still, done nothing to get its base vote out to the polls.

In politics you either win or you lose. It's not like Little League where you get credit for taking "good cuts." Coming close doesn't count.

At the Lincoln Club speech, I might have been dreadful; but the questions were great.

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