Monitor Breakfast: Mark Racicot

Selected quotations from a Monitor Breakfast with Republican National Committee Chairman Mark Racicot

Before being named to head the Republican National Committee this January, Marc Racicot served as Montana's governor from 1993 to 2001. Previously, he was that state's attorney general.

On the need for prompt action on Social Security funding:

" I do think the American people are waiting for an honest discussion of that...."

On whether he thinks Congress should take up such legislation promptly:

"I think that we are more than prepared. I have not had a personal discussion with the President of late or with people in the White House of late. But I have talked with members of Congress and I have talked with people around the country, and I think they believe it is a timely thing for us to move on with."

On the need for Congress to promptly fix Social Security funding:

"I think they should take up the issue and address it and to do it as honestly as they possibly can. It is not easy and they may not get it done between now and November. But I think the sooner we invest ourselves in taking up the President on this offer and moving forward, the more time we save at the other end."

On claims the Republican right is upset by President Bush's Middle East policy:

"I have been out around the country in 23 different states in 90 days with all of those who are engaged in the political process.... There is no disaffection out across the country that I have observed. Now there may be commentators or those who offer their views, sometimes cogently and sometimes gratuitously. And they are welcome in the process....

I do not see any lack of resonance or connection with any part of our party and with the administration or with Congress. Does that mean they don't have questions? That would be foolish to allege.... they may not agree even, but does that cause them to leave the party or to become disengaged? The answer is no."

On Republican prospects in this year's battle to control state houses:

"There are natural pendulum swings, that is one thing. There are open seats with a lot of people leaving office. .... We have had a dominant share for almost a decade and we have more seats to defend. ...The governors' races are going to be difficult. There is just no question about that.

There are certain pendulum swings, too. People of this nation have a unique and I think very important way of keeping balance.

We will be somewhat stronger in the Northeast than we have been, but we will probably be more challenged in the Midwest than we have been before. There will be tough races in Arizona and New Mexico, but we feel we can be very competitive and are going to invest ourselves heavily in California which has not been in our column."

On reports Democrats plan to use the Enron collapse as a campaign weapon in the 2002 elections:

"To be honest, I think they are imagining something here that is not a reality. Perhaps they hope for it. I've found virtually no evidence to support any kind of effort in that regard. This will be their decision.

The President pointed out very clearly early on there was a tremendously tragic failure of management.... The issue is never raised to me."

On why he won't appear on some TV talk shows:

"'I want to know you are not going to be a prop for the theatrical demonstrations of someone else. If that is not possible, I don't think you ought to do it.

Even though I am not an elected leader, I think there is some responsibility for us to try and be constructive. Radio is great. There is usually enough time given to talk, listen, and debate, and I think that is wonderful. But when you just yell Â- when everything is already scripted doesn't matter what I studied, it doesn't matter what I think, or policy resolutions, it doesn't matter what I allegedly know or don't know - what matter is whether or not I am cute or I can secure ratings.

[People] ought to make a careful judgment about what they encourage with their presence. And I think the people involved in the media ought to be more careful in protecting the trust of the American people."

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