Republican Committee panelists discuss election politics in Morristown

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Who will be the next president of the United States? The “War on Women” and what women really want. Will we ever know what happened in the Benghazi incident in Libya? Gov. Chris Christie’s decision not to run for president in 2012. What issues are facing the country?

These were among the issues at a panel discussion recently hosted by the Morristown Republican Committee and moderated by Frank Vitolo, committee chair.

From left, Paul Mulshine, Kellyanne Conway and Kevin McCullough participated in a panel discussion hosted by the Morristown Republican Committee. Marie Pfeifer photo

The panel featured Kellyanne Conway, president and CEO of the Polling Company; Kevin McCullough, radio talk show host and author; and Paul Mulshine, Star-Ledger columnist. Conway provides regular commentary on Comedy Central, MTV and the Fox News Channel, and on various radio shows. McCullough hosts “The Kevin McCullough Show” and “Baldwin/McCullough Radio” and wrote No He Can’t: How Obama is Dismantling Hope and Change. Mulshine has worked as a journalist since 1975 and considers himself the sole remaining “old-time” conservative columnist in America.

Concerning who will be the next president, Conway and McCullough were united in supporting Mitt Romney. McCullough predicted that Romney would win by a surprisingly large amount of the votes, “and it will be an early night for the networks. He will take New Hampshire, Virginia, Ohio, Florida and a close election in Pennsylvania.

“Romney can say, ‘I fixed the state, I fixed the Olympics, and I balanced the budget. Mr. President, you have not balanced the budget since you have been in office.’”

Romney could and should win the election and now has the advantage with the popular vote, Conway said. “President [Barack] Obama has significant advantage as an incumbent. Female voters are reluctant to make a change, and women are a very large voting-block. The left is unpredictable with their shenanigans. But I do believe Romney will win, and we will all go to bed early.”

Mulshine predicted a very close vote but bet a six-pack it would be Obama. He referred to a conversation that he had with Pat Murray, a Monmouth University pollster. “Pat predicted that Romney will take the blue states. Voters in the red states are anti-Obama, so they will show up at the polls boosting the popular vote for Romney, which is silly because it doesn’t mean anything in America. Obama will squeak through in the swing states.”

Mulshine suggested if the Republicans were smart they would meet on Friday and switch to the Maine and Nebraska system for Pennsylvania and Michigan. Maine and Nebraska passed legislation to commit their state’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote – winner take all. “It would be interesting if the Republicans changed the voting to winner take all in their states and continued the proportional vote in their opponent’s states.”

The ‘War on Women’

The loss of 990,000 women’s jobs and the women’s poverty rate of 17 percent, the highest ever, motivate women to want a change in administration this election, Conway said. “We are in our ninth straight month of the ‘War on Women’ nonsense. Do women care about abortion and contraception as election issues? No. I am sick of it!”

Conway said in her 24 years in politics she had never heard of men’s issues. Why aren’t women’s issues every-day issues, she asked?

The “left” is obsessed with abortion and contraception and there fore only want to talk with women from the “waist down,” while Romney talks with women from the “waist up” – where women’s eyes, ears, brains and hearts are, she said.

During the debates, she said, “Romney completely upended his caricature as an uncaring rich guy. He was perceived as a ‘babe magnet.’ Women began to see Romney as a family man, a caring husband and father of five sons as well as a successful entrepreneur and politician.”

“While women watched the debates in their homes where they were able to cut through the noise and silence, they encountered President Obama, a man they didn’t like … The president couldn’t look up and slurred his words. He was totally disengaged. Then they encountered Vice President Biden, a man they didn’t like either. A president who couldn’t look up, and a VP who couldn’t shut up. These are the kind of men women don’t like.”

Since women spend or influence 98 percent of the money in this country, McCullough said, the top concern for both women and men in this country is: “When will I be financially sound?” McCullough’s test group for women’s concerns is his bride, who is 10 years younger, and her friends who are in their 30s and 40s. He discovered the young women are articulate, intelligent, educated, informed and engaged in life, he said, noting they influence one another.

According to McCullough, they’re watching FOX News and reading Vogue Magazine. They are not going to be told what kind of stereotype they should be, and they are bringing a different perspective to expressing their choice of an appropriate president, he said.

Because women often juggle raising a family and working, they create more small businesses than men, he said, noting that working at home allows women to work. One out of five families is working as hard as possible and can’t pay the bills; one out of 10 is unemployed, he noted, adding that the country is at its lowest business-formation cycle since 1930.

Mulshine ducked the whole women’s issue by saying, “I grew up in Ocean County, and I don’t look up or down.”

If elected, will Romney govern as a conservative?

Mulshine believes he will govern as an administrator. “He won’t be ideological.”

“We are looking at a Ronald Reagan in the making. He is a man who has a lot of substance,” said McCullough.

Conway said, “He will have to handle the whole fraud and corruption problem in addition to deciding how he sees his role as president and how to handle the Middle East problems. He will be a more conservative president than he was as governor.

Benghazi Attack

Concerning the Middle East, the sentiment among the panelists was that Obama should have said that the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was under terrorist attack when the president appeared in the White House Rose Garden after four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed Sept. 11 in Benghazi.

Mulshine said, “ We should not be micromanaging countries in the Middle East. If you help the rebels overthrow a secular dictator, then you will always get an Al Qaeda extremist.”

Governor Chris Christie

The panelists also weighed in on a noncontender in the presidential election. Conway complimented Christie for possessing the “gene of self-awareness.”

“It was a good decision for him not to run at this time,” she said. “He needs to write a better New Jersey success story. The governor is one of the few people who can say his second term is better than his first term. He can be helpful to Romney because Gov. Christie is the most sought-after fundraiser. I am a fond supporter of Christie.”

McCullough said he liked the governor’s toughness and the way he enforced it. “His job is to fix New Jersey, and I liked the way he handled the issues with the teachers union.”

Mulshine said, “If Romney wins, Gov. Christie will have to wait a long time to run for president. Chris was actually the best candidate for president. He was incredibly good on TV. He wouldn’t have been able to do his job here in New Jersey if he ran because he would have had to declare himself two years out. Two years is too long, and we ought to change that.”

What issues are facing the country?

For Mulshine, one of the big issues facing the country is debt.

“We need bigger cuts. The Grover Norquist model of not raising taxes and continued spending just doesn’t work. Grover Norquist is a lobbyist and a conservative activist who got every Republican congressman and Senator to sign and oath called the ‘Pledge.’ It is an oath that they will never, under any circumstances, vote to raise taxes on anyone. Paul Ryan has already said he won’t balance the budget and he won’t stop the wars. This is the only administration that declared it wouldn’t stop the war.”

How can the candidates be tied according to polls, listener Rich Babcock asked.

Most of the media want Barack Obama re-elected, McCullough replied.

Conway said, “The polls didn’t get it right in 2008, and they aren’t getting it right in 2012. The problem is there is no retribution for being wrong.

“You will never see my name connected to a poll because I conduct polls and provide the results to private entities, who use it. I can’t get it wrong or I’ll be out of business.”

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