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In an exclusive interview on The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour with host Earl Ofari Hutchinson on KTYM 1460 AM Los Angeles on November 11, Eddie Mahe Jr., former Republican National Committee Deputy Chair
EOH: What is the expected role of the RNC in the 2012 election?
EM: They have a critical role because of some kinds of expenditures that can only be made by the committee and not the outside groups. The divisions in the campaign law have distorted the process which forced a lot of money outside the system into the independent expenditure groups. I think it has been very unfortunate. They cannot be held accountable the way a party organization can, but the National Committee has the capacity to spend money directly in coordination with the campaign.
EOH: RNC is a neutral arbiter, is that correct?
EM: That is absolutely correct. There is no law that would preclude the committee from endorsing a candidate, but that has never happened and I cannot imagine it will this year.
EOH: What are the strength and weaknesses of the candidates? Mitt Romney?
EM: His strength is that it is his second campaign. Running for president is unlike anything else, including a major statewide race. That experience has been readily apparent as the campaign has gone forward. His weaknesses are two fold in my mind; he can’t fully walk away from Obama-care and there is a strong perception and reality that he is inconsistent on a lot of issues. He also has significant funding as an added strength.
EOH: Rick Perry?
EM: He is evidence of the problems you can have if you’ve never been in a presidential level campaign; a failure to understand the intensity of that type of campaign, coupled with the fact Governor Perry had never played any kind of role on a national scene. He never had a working knowledge of the federal issues. He has a lot of money and a strong record in Texas, and one assumes he would continue to strengthen, but this is not necessarily the case.
EOH: Herman Cain?
EM: Clearly he brought an excitement to the campaign none of the other candidates have been able to do. A considerably different bio. We have these allegations out there from these women. I for one have not prepared to believe that they are true since the first one came out of the same apartment building as Mr. Axelrod who is one of Obama’s operatives. Beyond that, we see where he never put in place the right kind of team. He has people that have not served him well in their roles, and has not been making the changes he needs to make. At this point I think ultimately the weakness in his campaign staff translates into a real weakness for him.
EOH: Newt Gingrich?
EM: All the other candidates combined do not have the knowledge of the federal issues and the sense of solution to those issues Newt has. He is absolutely brilliant in every respect and is an outstanding, very articulate speaker. His biggest problem is he has is in his own personal life, and they are not going away. In his capacity as a candidate, no one is his equal.
EOH: Does Michele Bachmann factor anywhere in the ongoing campaign?
EM: She’s a very articulate woman, very knowledgeable on the issues. She had the initial burst but did not have the capacity to take advantage of it, did not perform well in debates. I don’t think she would be a factor because I’m not sure the people supporting her respect her greatly, and would take her guidance on who they would support.
EOH: Is a division in the party a concern for the 2012 election?
EM: I would challenge your thesis because the data is tending to show that Mr. Obama is not having that much success in his fund raising. In terms of the philosophics of the division, both parties suffer from that in different ways. The reason I am not concerned about it, the one most important thing for the party to accomplish next year is to defeat Obama. In terms of getting Mr. Obama out of the leadership of this country, they are united.
EOH: What you are saying is that when the party settles on the standard bearer, the funds will come in.
EM: There is no doubt that any one of these individuals will have adequate funding. This race will be so overwhelming of the entire country, that money will play a lesser role than seen in other elections. The reason for the Obama team to have the money, they cannot run an affirmative campaign on their record on why he should be re-elected. They have to run a campaign to destroy the opponent, and have to have significant funding.
Our party is clearly right of center, almost across the board everyone in the Republican Party is right of center on the economics and economic issues and that’s what this campaign is going to be about.
EOH: What about dealing with the fiscal problems we have?
EM: There will be competing agendas; Obama strongly left of center, the Republicans right of center. That is going to be the basic division this year and I think the American electorate is going to make their decision on what direction they think the country should be going.
EOH: Do you see any other names up for candidacy?
EM: I think at the end of January/February with nobody capturing the imagination, we are going to see other folks drafted, all driven by the same basic objective, defeating President Obama.
EOH: What kind of campaign is the RNC expecting, down and dirty, or straight played on the issues?
EM: The RNC would not be involved in negative advertising. But they would be pointing out some deficiencies in Mr. Obama’s record. The only two issues in this next campaign would be Obama’s record, failure to satisfy the people who voted for him, and his attacks on whomever the Republican nominee is going to be. He cannot make an affirmative case for himself, he has to destroy his opponent. The Republicans just have to aggressively continue to point out Obama’s record.