The Club for Growth 2008
Thirteen days ago, a full-page ad questioning the patriotism of Gen. David Petraeus was placed in The New York Times by the liberal anti-war group MoveOn.org . It added real heat to the 2008 presidential season.
For many liberals, the red-meat issue is ending the war in Iraq. MoveOn.org 's tactics have effectively made it the standard-bearer for that issue.
For many conservatives the red meat is the economy, and their standard-bearer is the Club for Growth, led by its president, Pat Toomey.
In an interview, Toomey said that he has no problem taking aggressive positions like MoveOn.org, but only within the realm of economics. The club takes no stance on other red-meat issues of the conservative base such as uncontrolled immigration and cultural decay.
Toomey says that in the "issue matrix," the MoveOn.org ad generated far more titillation than the full page the Club for Growth took out in The Wall Street Journal calling out Congress' proposed protectionist policies against China. It is a policy that Toomey says echoes the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which helped deepen the Great Depression.
"In time of war, war understandably displaces everything else, but the prospects of our economy are never far behind." Toomey adds that the economy is the spine of the country "so national security ultimately depends entirely on economic security."
Just because the club is all about the numbers, it would be a mistake to liken its approach to that of mild-mannered bean-counters. Toomey said he does not back down when it comes to taking on candidates who do not practice fiscal discipline.
For the 2008 campaign, the Club for Growth has already posted on its Web site thoroughly researched "white papers" that inform voters about the economic records of the various candidates for president.
The club focuses on spending, taxes, trade, regulation, school choice and tort reform.
Two GOP presidential candidates that will never get the club's nod are Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Toomey calls Huckabee a "serial tax hiker" and gives McCain multiple wrist slaps for his opposition to the Bush tax cuts, his hostility to repeal of the death tax and his willingness to impose additional federal regulations on the economy.
One candidate who gets "particularly high marks for his accomplishments" from Toomey is former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Toomey said that "Giuliani performed outstanding in a very difficult liberal environment that had big budget deficits and a bloated bureaucracy. He came in and cut taxes, cut spending and sold off city assets. He really accomplished quite a lot considering the very liberal city council he had to deal with."
Toomey does not see the club getting involved with the Republican primary if Giuliani, Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney remain the front-runners.
"They have all demonstrated a pretty solid commitment to economic growth," Toomey said. "The only prospect in which I would really want us to step up our activities is if there was a surprising surge from either John McCain or Mike Huckabee."
Toomey dismisses the notion that Republicans lack enthusiasm for 2008. He points to the Democrats' big win in 2006 and the fact that they have a clear front-runner in Hillary Clinton as the basis for their energy.
"If Giuliani wins the nomination, he would be a fascinating candidate in the sense that he really re-draws the map," Toomey said.
He points out that Giuliani could carry New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania "so he changes the political calculus of the Electoral College dramatically."
"The unknown challenge with Giuliani," said Toomey, "are the social conservatives."
"Look," laughed Toomey, "Hillary Clinton will energize Republicans like nobody's business. ... Just wait until they hear Hillary Clinton give her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention next summer."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins GM Rutherford ‘wouldn’t make’ Despres trade today
- Starkey: Kang story of the year for Pirates
- Healthy defensive back Mitchell eager for 2nd season with Steelers
- Man’s body found hours after disappearance on Youghiogheny River
- Judge lashes UPMC, Highmark in consent decree violation hearing
- Pirates notebook: Alvarez having success looking the other way
- Steelers notebook: Blake gets outside shot in nickel
- Shadyside Art & Craft Festival makes jump to new spring edition
- Plum teacher, held for trial, vows to fight witness intimidation charge
- Crews working to free worker trapped in trench collapse in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood
- Project aims to control feral cat population in Pittsburgh area