Monitor Breakfast

Selected quotations from a Monitor breakfast with Marc Racicot.

Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast with Marc Racicot, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

On the role of war in the November election:

"I am trying so hard to make sure that we do not ... do anything that contributes to the decision [to go to war] being made in a highly partisan atmosphere. And I think people on both sides of the aisle are trying to do that."

On his advice to candidates on how to handle the war issue:

"If you are going to comment on this it ought to be done in the context of explanation or to respond to [allegations] of being too aggressive..."

On candidates charging opponents are 'soft' on Iraq:

"I think it is a legitimate question for individual voters when they make up their minds about whether or not a [candidate represents] what they think is right. So yes, it is a legitimate issue because it reflects upon the character and capacity [of candidates]."

On why President Bush is focused on Iraq:

"There is no person in the country who has looked into the eyes of more victims and victims' families than he has. Frankly, there is no way to calculate the profound impact that[that] has, or to underscore the severity of the duties that are placed upon [his] shoulders.

"Any time the personal safety and security of the people you love and serve comes into question, you are more focused and more concerned and more vigilant than with any other matter."

On the election outlook:

"We have not made any extravagant promises and we don't intend to. I am the son of a coach, and my father always advised it was probably bad form and bad manners and bad luck to dance in the end zone especially before the competition began.

"So we don't make any extravagant promises, but we honestly believe that we can hold on to the House and we can regain control of the Senate and we can maintain a majority of governorships in Republican hands. We know, however, that those races are very close.

"We just believe that this is an historic opportunity for us, and we recognize just how much history we are confronting because it has not been since Franklin Roosevelt was president in the first off-year election in 1934 that a sitting incumbent president in the first off-year election actually gained seats in Congress. So we know it is a monumental feat to be accomplished."

On RNC efforts to help Florida Gov. Jeb Bush:

"There are a lot of people we are working hard for and will support as strongly as we possibly can. But I would tell you honestly we all attend to each of these candidates with the same degree of care and caution in an effort to help as many of them as possible.

"I don't think we have singled out any individual candidate as being the only candidate that we are going to focus upon. I don't believe that Gov. Bush would want it that way, either. The fact is we think he is a very good governor. He has served Florida exceptionally well. It is not an easy place to toil in the trenches.

"We feel strongly that he will be successful, but we have know and felt from the beginning – and so has he – that this is going to be a challenging campaign. The same is true for others we feel strongly about – Governor [George] Pataki is in a very, very challenging race in a challenging state. Governor [John] Rowland in Connecticut is another governor who has served well as a national leader. "

On the effect of campaign finance reform legislation:

"There will be new kinds of groups that are tethered together by issues. And some of them have to report and some of them don't. As a consequence of that, I think you are going to see more anonymity in the system, less accountability, and I am not convinced you will see less invested."

On whether the Federal Election Commission is gutting campaign finance reform as it drafts new regulations, as Republican Sen. John McCain alleges:

"I don't believe Senator McCain is right. He obviously has a great deal of sensitivity about these issues because they have been a central part of his legislative focus. I understand his sensitivity. But I think he has been mistaken in his impression of what this particular piece of legislation could do and would do..."

On whether President Bush has political coattails:

"The president doesn't believe that he has coattails, and we do not presume that either. Obviously he was not swept in with a wave of people in the year 2000, that is a fact and it is reality."

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