Representatives from GOP Presidential Candidates participate in Central Republican Women forum

On Tuesday, January 15, the Central Republican Women’s Club put on a candidates’ forum featuring representatives from each of the major Republican candidates for President. Sen. Karen Johnson represented Ron Paul, Sen. Jack Harper represented Mike Huckabee, Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Rep. Nancy McLain represented Mitt Romney, Michelle Marini represented Rudy Giuliani, Congressional staffer Paul Hickman represented John McCain, and Kim Owens represented Fred Thompson. CWRC meets every third Tuesday and they are the second oldest Republican Women’s club in the state, turning 50 this year.
On illegal immigration, Marini asserted that Giuliani was “absolutely anti-amnesty,” and Arpaio said that Romney was too. Speaking for McCain, Hickman said that immigration is a complicated issue and we need comprehensive immigration reform, with border security first. Owens said it’s Thompson’s position that we are a nation of laws first when it comes to illegal immigration. Harper discussed Huckabee’s plan for dealing with illegal immigration, which he said is similar to Sen. Jon Kyl’s former bill with its touchback provision.

When asked about economic policies, Hickman said that McCain’s top priority is getting spending under control, and keeping taxes and regulations moderate. Owens said that Thompson believes we must make some hard choices, and there will need to be budget cuts. Harper touted Huckabee’s Fair Tax plan. When questioned, Harper acknowledged that although Huckabee would eliminate the income tax, his Fair Tax would increase consumption taxes to 23%.

The candidates’ representatives were asked about the future of the Republican Party. Marini said that Giuliani considers the GOP a big tent. Johnson said Paul wants us to follow the Constitution. Thompson’s spokesperson Owens said he is concerned we got away from the core conservative principles. Harper said Huckabee is the only candidate as articulate as Reagan, and if Reagan were around today we’d probably tear him apart for giving illegal immigrants amnesty. Speaking for McCain, Hickman said Republicans need to return back to basics; when they came into power they turned into Democrats.

Next the speakers provided reasons why their candidate was the best qualified to be president. Owens said that you know what you’re getting from day one with Thompson, who has a broad range of experience. Hickman said that McCain has also been consistent from day one, you know where he stands, he’s not going to change his mind. He will bring the Reagan Democrats back into the party. Marini said that Giuliani is the candidate who will make you feel secure when you go to sleep at night. Arpaio said that Romney has the experience having run both the state and private business – plus he’s a nice guy. Harper said that Huckabee is the only viable candidate with a solid record on the Second Amendment and pro-life issues. Thompson’s representative Owens begged to differ on that. Johnson said Paul was the most qualified since he’s a dedicated constitutionalist.

One of the audience members asked why the rest of the candidates thought they could beat McCain. Harper said if Huckabee could beat the Clinton machine in Arkansas, he could beat them for president. He said he’d made a promise not to speak negatively about the other candidates, but he didn’t see how he could answer this question without speaking negatively. He told a story about how he had confronted McCain on a radio show once regarding whether he was going to vote for the federal marriage act. McCain said he was going to. Turned out McCain helped with a filibuster the next day to prevent the bill from coming up for a vote. Harper thought that was not very honest of McCain. Hickman defended McCain and asserted that he brings all three wings of the party together, including evangelicals.

Marini said that Giuliani is the most electable candidate because he’s been tried and tested having handled the 9-11 attacks. Arpaio said Romney has the best shot because he’s not entrenched in the Washington mentality and would bring a fresh approach. Owens touted Thompson’s trustworthiness.

Someone in the audience asked the panel about healthcare. Johnson said that Paul finds no right to healthcare in the Constitution. Owens agreed, but said on behalf of Thompson that where there’s a need there should be a solution. Harper said that Huckabee is seeking a proactive solution, involving more preventative care. McClain said that Romney wouldn’t impose Massachusetts’ healthcare plan on the rest of the country, but would allow each state to choose its own system.

The panel was asked about whether there was going to be a significant increase in the gas tax. Harper responded and said there are U.S. Senators who are blocking our ability to tap our own oil reserves and use nuclear power, artificially keeping the cost of gas high.

Another audience member asked whether the candidates would consider being VP. None of the candidates’ representatives wanted to admit that. However, Johnson had the best response. She said that when the candidates were asked that previously, Paul interjected and said that none of the other candidates would want him to be their VP, so he didn’t have to answer that question.

A straw poll was taken at the end. Out of 30 votes, 18 were for McCain (60%), 5 for Romney, 4 for Thompson, and 3 for Giuliani. Did Romney’s strong second place showing possibly have something to do with the fact that Sheriff Arpaio was representing him in front of all those ladies?



  1. Nice post, Pat. I am not sure a one vote difference qualifies for a strong second but I appreciate the coverage. Here is a link to a great article.

    Kim Owens

  2. Actually that straw poll may not be as accurate after the debate as before. After talking to many of the ladies afterwards, I think Kim might have enlightened a few about Fred. Many people voted before the debate. It would be interesting to take that straw poll now. I agree with Kim, one vote does not make a strong second. Pat, I do appreciate the great coverage as well, nice job.

  3. Geez, I’m so glad Romney is a nice guy. Does that mean the rest aren’t as nice? I wouldn’t want to vote for the “mean guy”.

  4. It is universally known that the Republican Women organizations are a breeding ground for RINOs by RINOs. They do not even allow discussion at their meetings of “divisive” platform planks such as pro-life. Twice, Republican women gave Napolitano victory. Check out Republicans for Janet. Why waste so much ink on reporting about the going-ons at RINO meetings.

  5. Conservative to the Core says

    This may not be important but the last paragraph said there were 30 vote but the totals you gave equaled 31. Who put two votes in for their candidate?

  6. Marian
    I beg to differ, but I am certainly not a RINO! And I am a member of a women’s club. Maybe you should come to one of our meetings at ERWC, we meet at El Paso BBQ on Litchfield Rd and McDowell in Goodyear at 11:00 am, the third Tuesday of every month. We would love to here from you. Our straw poll taken at our last meeting resulted in a big win for Fred and he is very conservative.

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