Volume 1 Number 3 - June 5, 2002
A VISIT WITH PRESIDENT BUSH
KEY CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS
FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLES
I was recently privileged to be part of a small bipartisan group of leaders from around the country who met in Washington, D.C. for key meetings.
The group had come together to advance an agenda that is anti-terrorist, pro-faith-based assistance to the less fortunate, and pro-common sense policy in the Middle East.
As a Republican activist being at high level meetings with key Democrats with a chance to ask tough questions was a different experience.
Nevertheless, first things first - our visit with the President in the Roosevelt Room was very special. They scheduled us for twenty minutes, but instead we visited with him for forty minutes. The President was articulate and visionary in his opening remarks. He was direct, plain spoken and forceful. At the top of the list was his support for peace for Israel and his continued determination to root out terrorism and he was somewhat optimistic about the potential for progress in the Middle East. He related how hard it had been to see Prime Minister Sharon receive the word of the latest suicide attack in the middle of their last meeting.
We discussed the Charity, Aid, Recovery and Empowerment Act of 2002 co-sponsored by Senators Lieberman and Santorum and backed by the President. This legislation provides for constructive support of faith-based charities, new tax incentives for charitable giving and significantly increased funds for social services needed by our agencies. President Bush spoke movingly about how much positive volunteer action was motivated by people of strong faith. He was also very mindful of the increased incidents of anti-Semitism in Europe and is deeply concerned. He indicated that on his trip to Russia, he would be visiting the recently renovated Central Synagogue in St. Petersburg and meeting with Russian Jewish leaders. The President brought with him to the meeting - Condoleezza Rice, Ari Fleischer, HUD Secretary Mel Martinez and Karl Rove (although while the President was present they remained silent).
Talk about security conscious, the security perimeters around the Capital and the White House are enormous and getting around them and gaining entry is time consuming.
A couple of observations about the President - he spoke without notes, he spoke with passion and made off the cuff comments on a number of issues that gives one clues to where he is at. He is focused like a laser on the war against terror and on the Middle East where his support for Israel is unquestioned as his support for democracy for Palestinians (which he sees as critical for real peace and security). The President is older than I saw him at Christmas. The stress of the job especially since 9/11 must be incredible. His job will be much easier if we can take back the U.S. Senate (with Attorney General Cornyn's race being one of the keys here in Texas) and hold the Republican House. The President's rave reviews from Democrats in the group at our meeting bode well for Karl Rove’s plan to bring into the fold the old pro-security Reagan Democrats.
The rest of the program was a meeting with key congressional leadership. It was literally a Who's Who from Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt to Trent Lott, and Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay. As they came in and out they were courteous to each other on the key security issues there on its face seemed to be agreement. Of course, we know better - when asked about faith-based programs, Hillary said she was "interested." When Daschle was asked about the President’s war on terrorism he said "we must stand together" (right!)
Back on the Houston Front
Don't be confused by media reports that our strong stand for a fair redistricting was related to other differences. Not so, the Harris County Republican Party’s work was based on the fact that how lines are drawn determine which party wins. In the Harris County line drawing, we were short changed on Congress, State Senate, House Senate and County Commissioners. The ultimate test, of course, is in November - so watch five critical races – (1) Tom Reiser, Congressional District 25; (2) Johnny Isbell, Commissioner Precinct No. 2; (3) State Senate 15, Michael Wolfe v. John Whitmire; (4) Dionne Roberts for State Representative District 137, and Debra Danburg v. Martha Wong, State Representative District 134 – wins or losses in November will tell the tale.
Statewide Races - How Is the GOP Doing?
Are you confused about polls that seem inconsistent in statewide races? How can Governor Rick Perry be up 25 points if John Cornyn is in a dead heat? The answer is it depends. Poll results depend on the sample and how it is broken down between partly affiliation, region, sex, race, etc. Results can be altered greatly by playing with Democrats vs. Republican turnout numbers.
There is one thing we know to be true - all of our statewide races could be difficult. We know the Democrats will have an unprecedented effort and will push turnout. We must do the same. Will we be successful? You can ask yourself two questions: (1) are you excited about this year's election? and (2) are your Republican friends excited about our ticket? If your answers are yes, we're OK. If not, ask yourself a third question, what do we need to do to get you and your friends excited about our ticket? Let me know - we will publish your best ideas.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long time Republican spokesman, fund raiser, leader who just completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chair. During his time as Chairman, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events. For six years, Gary put out a bi-weekly newsletter which he has continued due to requests from many Republican activists.
The Texas Conservative Review is published as a public service by Gary Polland
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