Monday, May 01, 2006

Ask the Candidate


What does "open to a wide range of views" mean?
Giuliani was in Iowa to raise money for Jeff Lamberti, a Republican candidate for Congress, and Rep. Jim Nussle, who is running unopposed for the Republican nomination for governor.

Raising money for local Republicans even as he ponders his own political future, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Monday that Republicans must increasingly be "a big party" that accepts divergent views.

What does that mean? Republicans "must increasingly be a big party, that accepts divergent views"? Does that mean you can have whatever views you want and still be a Republican? That you can be both pro-choice AND a member of a political party that includes outlawing a woman's right to an abortion in its' platform? Does it mean that you can be a homosexual AND be in the Republican party, just as long as you don't commit any acts of homosexuality?

If the last six years with George W. Bush has shown us nothing else, it's that the people must never assume that a word means the same thing to a politician that it means to everyone else.

The question for Giuliani is: Define "open to" and "accepts."

Bush says that he's open to others' opinions. He says that he accepts that others have different opinions than his. I heard his spokeswoman, Nicolle Wallace, on Hardball this week say it, too. Bush listens to his generals, he listens to his advisers, he listens to "the voices," he listens to everybody. But in the end, "I'm the decider."

Is Giuliani saying that the Republican party should have no platform, no positions that they stand for or believe in as a group, and that whomever gets into office should do whatever he wants to do?

Questions for Lamberti and Nussle: Do you share Giuliani's views and definitions?
Giuliani said that broad-brush themes, like limited government, ought to define the Republican Party not hot-button social issues like abortion and gay rights.

"The major thing that we organize around as Republicans is government that puts more reliance on people than government," Giuliani said. "They (Democrats) tend to think of government solutions as most of the answers."

Questions for Giuliani: Define "limited government." "Reliance on people (instead of government" to do what exactly? What "government" (services) are you proposing that Republicans "limit"?

Questions for Lamberti and Nussle: See above.

If you get elected (and Nussle re-elected), what will you limit in government? SPECIFICALLY. Line-by-line, let's go over the budget. After we go through the budget, let's go outside the budget, to those matters that are philosophical (judicial). What are you going to criminalize and what (if anything) are you going to decriminalize? Prayer in schools? Mangers and creches on public/government property? Forced pregnancies? Prison for women who have abortions?
Meeting with reporters, Giuliani took an immigration stance likely to cause heartburn with GOP conservatives arguing for a pragmatic approach that both toughens border security but also sets up a mechanism for illegal aliens to earn citizenship.

"If you try to deal with it through either extreme, I think you would make a terrible mistake," Giuliani said. "If you were to pass a law making everybody who is here, allegedly, illegally a criminal with a penalty of five years in jail, we would become a much more insecure country. You drive them farther underground, you push them more toward criminal activity."

Questions for Giuliani: What is it that you (and Republicans) are trying to accomplish? Getting rid of the people who are in the U.S. illegally? Tossing a big fat bone to the prison-industrial complex? Creating a secure border so that people seeking low paying work can't enter the country? Creating a secure border so that terrorists/drug smugglers can't enter the country? Tossing a bone to the Republican party's corporate patrons by guaranteeing them cheap labor? Getting the hispanic vote for the Republican party? Creating jobs and increasing the minimum wage for out-of-work citizens?

What do you think the American people (regardless of political party affiliation) want?
Giuliani was also clear he's considering his own future ambitions.

"I am interested in public service again," he said. "My effort this year will be to help Republicans get elected and, quite honestly, a part of it also is saying to myself 'Does it look like I have a chance in 2008?'"

Some strategists believe Giuliani will face significant hurdles in Republican politics because he supports abortion rights and favors tough gun control laws, views that contrast those held by many core Republican voters.

Giuliani is working hard to counter that notion by helping other Republicans get elected, while reaching out to conservatives to ease their concerns.

"I've got a lot of places to go and a lot of people to talk to and a long process to go through to see if it makes sense for me to run for president in 2008," Giuliani said.

Iowa Republican Chairman Ray Hoffman, of Sioux City, declined to handicap Giuliani's outlook in a state where the conservative wing of the party is dominant.

"I hope to really be able to talk to him at some point and say where do you stand on gun control, where do stand on this, where do you stand on that," Hoffman said. "I haven't done that yet."

Questions for Ray Hoffman, Iowa's Republican Chairman: See above. Where do you and the Republican party in Iowa stand on it all?

We have to reject the spin, the slogans, catchy phrases, and demand that the candidates explain precisely what they mean, what they intend to do if elected, and how they are going to go about doing it. In detail. And including their definitions for simple words and terms.

If candidates can't explain it to you, then they can't explain it to those working under them who are expected to implement it.

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