Republican strategist Ron Christie tells Newsmax the controversy over Rep. Paul Ryan’s “very honest” Medicare reform plan won’t jeopardize the GOP majority in the House next year — and the GOP can still regain control of the Senate as well.
Christie also says that while Mitt Romney is the current front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the dark horse who may emerge — and any Republican will do a “far better job” than President Barack Obama.
Christie served as Vice President Dick Cheney’s deputy assistant for domestic policy, and later as a special assistant to President George W. Bush. He is Adjunct Professor of Strategic Advocacy at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management.
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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Christie was asked how Republicans will “weather the storm” over the Medicare issue following Tuesday’s special election in New York, which saw a Democrat win a House seat in a solidly Republican district. Democrats have sought to portray the election as a referendum on Rep. Ryan’s plan.
“What Republicans need to do is give a clear choice to the American people,” Christie says.
“And the choice is very simple. Either we can continue to tax and spend and accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, or the men and women we elect to represent us in Washington, D.C. can take the responsible step and look at the explosive growth of entitlement spending — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
“What Representative Ryan has done has been a very honest and very smart first step in the conversation, which is saying we can’t sustain the rate of growth that we have right now.
“So I applaud Representative Ryan. I think the House Republicans and Senate Republicans are going to rally around a message of not only reforming Medicare but reforming entitlement spending to make sure America has a strong fiscal future.”
Rep. Ryan said on Wednesday that President Obama and the Democrats have decided to “distort and demagogue” on the Medicare reform issue. But Christie insists the GOP can counter that.
“You have the truth,” he declares.
“Healthcare costs are rising somewhere between 6 and 8 percent a year. That’s how you have to demagogue the demagogues. You have to come after them with the truth.
“Doing nothing is exactly what the Democrats have put out. They haven’t put out a budget. They haven’t put out entitlement reform programs.
“The simple fact is, the Democrats demagogue but they refuse to put a simple plan out for the American people to review.”
Asked if the Medicare flap will jeopardize the GOP majority in the House in 2012, Christie responds: “Absolutely not.
“Republicans will do well if they continue to take their story to the American people.
“No, I’m not worried about our majority in the House of Representatives. I’m actually looking forward to regaining control of the Senate next year because there are far more Democrats who are at risk than Republicans, and if Democrats continue to demagogue and scare people, I think the American people will see through that and say we need actual leaders who are going to make the decisions.”
Referring to the presence in the New York race of a former Democrat who ran on the Tea Party ballot, Christie says it is wrong to overemphasize the Republican loss “in one seat in one election in upstate New York, where there was a ringer candidate in a reliably safe Republican district.”
As for the potential Republican presidential candidates in 2012, Christie tells Newsmax: “I think you have to give the early inside track to [former] Governor Romney of Massachusetts. He certainly has been able to amass a rather prodigious amount of fundraising prowess.
“We’ve seen the governor with strong business experience. And if you look at the news accounts, he’s the individual the Obama administration’s re-election campaign is most concerned about facing.
“But there are more to look at. I look at the dark horse right now as being current Texas Governor Rick Perry. Texas is leading the United States in economic growth. They have no sales tax. More businesses are relocating to Texas than to any other state. If you look at what’s going on down in Texas, maybe that’s good for the United States.”
Perry has repeatedly said he won’t seek the GOP nomination in 2012.
“But if folks try to draft him, it wouldn’t be too hard to twist his arm to get him to throw his hat in the ring,” Christie says.
However, he warns that “time is running short” for Republican candidates to formally enter the race, raise funds, attract staff, and prepare for the campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“If you’re a Republican of some stature and you’re thinking about getting in the race, I think now’s the time to do it before the clock runs out on you.
But he adds that any Republican who has already announced would do a “far better job” than Obama, and denies that potential GOP candidates are wary about entering the race.
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