Mehlman on CA-50

Posted: Jun 07, 2006 8:21 AM

Just got off a conference call with RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman. I was bumped for the beginning (silly technology), but heard the question-and-answer.

John from RightWingNews asked if the Bilbray win might show that folks prefer the House approach to dealing with illegal immigration over the Senate's, since Bilbray made border protection such a big part of his campaign.

Mehlman: "I think it shows the public wants illegal immigration dealt with as a serious issue...what crystalized that issue is that his opponent encouraged illegals to vote...The very clear choice was between a candidate who said we need border security and another candidate who said, 'illgeals, welcome to the voting process,' and I think that’s a very important distinction."

Rob from Human Events asked how the Busby "no papers" comment affected the last few days of the race:

Mehlman: "I think it gave everyone a boost...Symbols or symbolic statements come to be what a candidate stands for."
I asked, in his experience, how predictive he thought a special election was for the November election, and how he read the fact that the margin of victory for Bilbray was smaller than Bush's in '04 in that district:
"It is lower than it was for Bush," he said, but added that the Dems' strategy hinges on the idea that the margins will fall precipitously all over the country, and he thinks this race shows that isn't a likelihood.

"Every election is different...what Busby was once again able to do is turn out Democrats at the highest level possible in that disctrict and they still lost."

"Am I saying we're not in a tough race this year? No, we're in a very tough race this year. But I think what we're seeing is this alleged harbinger of things to come, which a lot of the MSM is saying will be a Democratic majority, is in fact a harbinger of something different."

The strategy?

"Offering a clear choice, staying united as a party, and focusing on turnout."