Archive for November, 2007

John McCain And Virginia

Friday, November 30th, 2007

I have a piece in today’s Washington Times about John McCain and keeping Virginia Republican.  Please take a look.  Here’s the link — and here’s the full article:

McCain and Virginia

November 30, 2007

By Frederic V. Malek

I am doing double duty in politics this year, serving as both co-chairman of the McCain campaign for president and as finance chairman for the Republican Party of Virginia. Officially, a state finance chair is supposed to remain neutral in primaries. But in this case, I committed to John McCain before accepting Ed Gillespie’s request to be state finance chair. I am glad I did and now see a nexus between the two.

That 2008 will be a tough battle for Republicans will not come as news to anyone. In Virginia, we Republicans have suffered three consecutive statewide losses (governor, governor and senator), and earlier this month lost our majority in the state Senate.

Furthermore, we face a popular former governor, Mark Warner, in the 2008 Senate race. Most of the margin for Democrats has come from Northern Virginia, and The Washington Post in fact has already endorsed Mr. Warner, declaring in Sunday’s editorial that the leading announced Republican candidate, former Gov. Jim Gilmore, was confrontational and irresponsible. In fact, Mr. Gilmore was a tax cutter who controlled spending and was an outstanding governor. He also helped carry the state for President Bush. Nevertheless, The Post editorial underscores the challenge we face in both the senatorial and presidential race.

We will easily keep the Commonwealth of Virginia in the red column in 2008 with a strong presidential candidate with unchanged and unshakable conservative principles and the proven national security experience to lead our nation in time of war and peril. Mr. McCain is the only candidate who meets these criteria, and this is why I enthusiastically support him. He can win in Virginia, and his lead will help our Senate candidate win as well. Both races will be helped by the two outstanding leaders who occupy the other two top statewide offices, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

Why Mr. McCain, and why can he win, especially in Virginia? There are four core reasons: Principles, consistency, character and national security. Let’s briefly review each of these:

Principles: You may or may not agree with Mr. McCain on all of his positions, but one thing you can be sure of is that he will always be guided by his core beliefs and not by polls. Isn’t this the definition of leadership, and isn’t this what America needs in a leader?

Consistency: There is only one candidate in either party who has demonstrated consistency in his beliefs over time — who knows clearly who he is and what he stands for. The consistency in core beliefs extends from his defense of an unpopular “surge” strategy in Iraq (which now seems to be working) to social issues such as the right to life. He hasn’t changed his views to comply with voter preference — he has led voters toward his views.

Character: At my alma mater, West Point, we had a clause in the cadet motto that extolled “the courage to choose the harder right vs. the easier wrong.” Make the right choice no matter what the personal or political price might be. It encompasses principle and consistency, but is the embodiment of character. No one in recent history has demonstrated this more vividly than Mr. McCain. Most of us are aware of his refusal to be released after 3 years of torture and deprivation in a Viet Cong hell hole, unless his men and colleagues accompanied him. Who among us could show such courage? Such honor? He has continued these choices throughout his career and taking on the administration’s conduct of the Iraq war early on (supporting more troops and different tactics), forcing the administration to tighten its standards on torture prevention (who could know more about this or speak with more moral authority), and recently supporting the vastly politically unpopular but successful surge in troops.

National security: Mr. McCain has been immersed in national security his entire life and has shown leadership and skill at every turn. This extends from his time leading a Navy fighter squadron and his leadership of a group of prisoners of war, to his twenty years in the United States Senate where he has been a rigorous, consistent and effective voice on defending our country. He knows his stuff — he doesn’t need on the job training. And he has the right staff to make those truly hard decisions under duress that strike the right balance between national defense, moral authority, and respect for others.

These are the reasons I support Mr. McCain. They are also the reasons why Mr. McCain can carry the Commonwealth of Virginia and lead our Senate and congressional candidates to victory. A principled, consistent, experienced man of proven high character in a state that since the birth of the Republic has itself exemplified these characteristics.

Frederic V. Malek is a graduate of West Point and the Harvard Business School, and served in Vietnam. He also serves on a number of charitable and educational Boards.

 

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Upbeat GOP Prospects for Battleground Virginia

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

Fred Barnes has an interesting piece in the new issue of Weekly Standard. The headline is “Off-Year Blues… But next year, Republicans might be singing a happier tune.” Here’s one nugget from the piece that caught my attention:

“The last Democrat to win Virginia was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Bush won the state in 2004 by 8 points. ‘The right Democratic candidate can win Virginia,’ Governor Tim Kaine said last week. ‘The wrong Democrat can’t.’ Kaine, a Democrat, has endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.”

Is Gov. Kaine correct? If Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton, are they doomed to lose Virginia?

It’s an important question to consider following our party’s statehouse losses earlier this month. Democrats think what happened in the state elections are a sign of things to come. But in reality, it’s misplaced optimism by the other side to link the 2007 state elections to the 2008 presidential campaign.

This month’s state level elections were more of a house cleaning. Yes, we as a party need to cure what ills us in if we are to regain touch with Virginia voters. We need to reinvigorate the Republican brand in the Commonwealth. .

But I don’t see this being reflected in the presidential-level vote in Virginia. This was not an election based on national issues. And Hillary Clinton will not help Democrats here. Gov. Kaine is right – at least on this political matter.

I’ve been intrigued by some of the observations about the state of the Republican Party that appeared in the Virginia blogosphere after the state elections. Here are some postings that caught my eye:

Bearing Drift: “We’re in one of those change modes. It’s not an embracing of Democrat principles, because history also shows that once the voters get a taste of that, they prompt a Republican resurgence. People just want a shift, and today as long as it’s different, it’s alright.”

Bacon’s Rebellion: “The Rs have to convince voters that they’re both serious about fighting tax hikes and capable of addressing Virginia’s very real challenges. If what we hear from the Rs in 2008 is more politics of symbolism — flag burning amendments, prayer in schools, etc. — they will fail miserably. If they can advance an agenda that solves real problems and keeps spending/taxes in check, they can re-emerge as winners.”

As the finance chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, I’m keenly interested in what the blogosphere has to say about the direction of our party. I also remain both an optimist and a realist. That’s why I agree with the following blogger who smartly observed:

X Curmudgeon: “If you go to the Wikipedia entry for “United States Presidential Election–2008” you’ll already see Virginia listed as one of about 15 battleground states. With 13 electoral votes up for grabs, Virginia is worth the fight.”

Yes, Virginia is worth the fight. And we will win it.

Hillary Clinton’s Big Mistakes On Cancer

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Hillary Clinton made two big mistakes in Tuesday night’s debate that were overshadowed by other issues and thus underreported. Her response to Brian Williams asking whether any candidate who becomes President would pledge to be the President who knocks cancer down from the status as number one killer of Americans under the age of 85. Senator Clinton’s answer was:

“I’m going to do everything I can to do that. I went to Lance Armstrong’s cancer symposium in Iowa and it was a very moving experience — not only people like us speaking but a lot of cancer survivors, a lot of researchers. It’s just outrageous that under President Bush, the National Institutes of Health has been basically decreased in funding. We are on the brink of so many medical breakthroughs, and I will once again fund that research, get those applications processed, get those young researchers in those labs to know that we’re going to tackle cancer and try to do everything we can to drive its death rate down.”

The first mistake was factual in her accusations that under President Bush, the NIH has been decreased in funding. The facts are that since 2001, cancer research funding has increased by 26 percent at the NIH. Further, partly as a result of this, 2006 was the second consecutive year there was a drop in cancer deaths in the United States.

Senator Clinton’s bigger mistake was to introduce politics into cancer prevention and research. If ever there was a bi-partisan cause, searching for new and improved approaches to preventing and curing cancer would be at the top of the list. And political leaders of both parties (e.g. Senators Specter and Feinstein) have joined hands in support of these efforts.

I speak with some personal experience, as my wife Marlene and I have supported and funded a range of cancer research, prevention, and treatment causes. Marlene serves on the Board of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Board of Visitors of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the Cancer Board of the Mayo Clinic. She is also President of Friends of Cancer Research, an organization co-founded by Marlene and Chairwoman, Ellen Sigal (a dedicated Democrat). For their work on Friends of Cancer Research, Marlene and Ellen were named Washingtonians of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine, two years ago.

Marlene and Ellen’s success and my commitment have been bolstered by their bi-partisan approach in the belief that cancer is a dread without political boundaries. Politicizing this issue can only be detrimental to the ultimate goal of eradicating this disease.

As an aside, I had lunch yesterday with former White House Press Secretary and cancer survivor, Tony Snow. Thanks to successful treatment, Tony is more vibrant and energetic than ever. We will be privileged to be in attendance Saturday night when he receives the 2007 Lombardi Symbol of Caring Award as a testimony to the extraordinary strides he has made in encouraging cancer research, prevention, and treatment through awareness and philanthropy.