The Ripon Forum

Volume 0, No. 0

Feb - March 2007 Issue

An Answer for Roger Mudd

By on October 29, 2015 with 0 Comments

20080411_roger_mudd_2Ever since Ted Kennedy proved unable to answer Roger Mudd’s question as to why he wanted to be President in 1980, candidates running for President have made it a point to have a clear and compelling answer to that question always at hand. With the 2008 election less than 20 months away, the Forum asked prominent Republicans both in Washington and around the country to put themselves in the shoes of the next GOP nominee for President.  More specifically, we asked them to provide – in 250 words or less – an answer that, they believe, will not only sum up the issues and ideas of a successful Republican candidacy, but set the tone and direction of a winning campaign. 

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Mickey Edwards, Washington, DC; former Congressman from Oklahoma (1977-1992), lecturer at Princeton University’s Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. 

I want to be President because I owe this country so much.

All of us in this race will want to talk about ourselves and how great we are. But the election of a President is not really about us as much as it’s about the American people and about their having leaders who will help them fulfill their aspirations: to live in safety, to have a real opportunity to get ahead, to enjoy the freedoms so many Americans have died to preserve.

I have had success because I live in a country that provides broad shoulders each of us can stand on to reach a little higher. I want to make sure we keep that precious component of what it means to be an American.  I not only want to help keep America secure and prosperous and full of opportunity, but I want to preserve the system of government that has made our national successes possible. It is a President’s job to provide leadership – to have a positive vision for what America can be like; to bring Americans together, across party lines, to work for common purposes; to model honesty and openness and civility in public life.

All those commitments will allow a President to lead within the boundaries of the Constitution, which makes a President not a supreme ruler but instead a citizen placed in a unique position to work with the Congress and the States to forge real solutions to the challenges we all face together. 

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Myrna Blyth, New York, NY; longtime editor-in-chief of Ladies’ Home Journal, founding editor of More magazine, and the author of two books, one a New York Times bestseller, and the other, “How to Raise An American,” to be published in March.

In a 2005 Time Magazine story about thirteen-year olds, the editors themselves were surprised at how gloomy young teens were. They reported, “Almost half or 46% believe that by the time they are their parents’ age, the U.S. will be a worse place to live in than it is now.”

I – and I’m sure many Americans – find it troubling that our children have grown so pessimistic. Yet it is no wonder.

Far too often, they only hear about the problems our nation faces without ever hearing that our country has always been able to solve our toughest challenges. Today, we continue to have that ability because of the manifold talents of the American people and the values in which the overwhelming majority of Americans believe.

Yes, we are faced with difficulties. The war on terror is a tough and demanding battle we have been called upon to fight and at which we must succeed. We must also keep our economy growing, develop greater energy independence, make health care more available, and educate our children effectively.

Yet I believe the problems our country faces can be solved. I remain optimistic about America. I know we can prevail against our enemies as we have in the past. I know we can provide even greater opportunities for all our people in the future.

I want to be President to ensure that the nation our children inherit will be safe and will be strong – and that our children will believe that the best of America is to come. 

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Ben Stein, Beverly Hills, CA; attorney and former speechwriter for President Nixon and President Ford, economist, college professor, television commentator, award-winning actor, and author of sixteen books, including his latest, “How to Ruin Your Life.”

The GOP is facing catastrophe from the public rage at the Iraq war. It will literally be cut to pieces if it does not reform. Here are the steps I suggest as a program of recovery for the party and the nation.

  1. Immediate withdrawal from Iraq. No more American lives used to defend the Iraqis from themselves.
  2. Extensive buildup of U.S. Armed Forces to prepare for possible war with North Korea and Iran.
  3. A surcharge on very high income persons – above $1 million annual taxable income – to fund a large pay increase for the military.
  4. A crackdown on fraud and abuse in the executive suite to show that the party is not the pawn of the very rich.
  5. Major funding to increase border security combined with funding to allow legal and needed immigrants to come here.
  6. An end to all bilingual education everywhere.
  7. A solemn commitment to right to life.

If I were the GOP candidate, I would try to take us back to being the party of Dwight Eisenhower – firm, conservative, small town values. 

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Beverly Davis, Eden, UT; recently retired small business owner, local government official, wife and mother of seven children, GOP activist since the 1960s, current President of the National Federation of Republican Women.

In the words of the Honorable Barry Goldwater, “Something must be done!”

I agree. I promise to restore ideas that are important to the Republican Party – ideas such as traditional American values, small government, and a strong national defense.

Our Founding Fathers acknowledged the usefulness of religion in society, a cohesive family unit and a strong sense of ethics. These values have contributed to a better society, and it is my promise that I will base my policies on these principles.

Our heritage also includes a desire for small government. Thomas Jefferson exclaimed, “Government is best which governs the least.” My mission is to reduce the influence of government in your lives. We have been promised the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, we were not promised government entitlements or pork barrel spending. I assure you that government entitlements and excessive spending will be reduced. This principle has long since been forgotten, and I intend to get it back!

A true role of government is the protection of its citizens. The United States has always been open to legal immigration, but government has a duty to make sure that U.S. borders are secure. Additionally, I will pursue an exit strategy in Iraq that will lead to victory. I will develop a plan that will bring our courageous men and women home, thwart terrorism, and provide Iraqis with a functioning government.

Let us move forward and get our party back! 

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Lionel Sosa, Austin, TX; Hispanic media advisor to President George W. Bush and Executive Director of Mexicans and Americans Thinking Together (MATT.org). Named one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in America by Time Magazine in 2005. 

Whomever the Republicans nominate for President must include the word TRUST in whatever it is they choose to stand for. Because in the end, voters will vote for the person they think stands for something good and the person they trust will get the job done.

George W. Bush proved it in 2004. He never changed what he stood for – PROTECTING US FROM TERRORISM. Enough voters liked what he stood for.

Enough voters also trusted him to get the job done. And in one of the closest presidential races in our history, WHAT HE STOOD FOR got him re-elected.

Given the above, if a Roger Mudd were to ask a John McCain the question, he might say: “Because as good as we have it right now as Americans, it is the time to solve the Iraqi quagmire while continuing to improve the prosperity and security we enjoy here at home. We can solve it all – including Iraq — but only if the President listens without bias, to Democrats, Republicans, our allies around the world, the citizens of Iraq, and most importantly, to ordinary American citizens.

“No one party or group of experts has all the answers.  But together we do. As President, I will take this combined counsel, my experiences and my conscience to make the decisions that will keep us safe as well as prosperous. I have no doubt, that for our country, our best days are ahead.”

A John McCain would never say, “I stand for integrity and selflessness.” But his actions and his messages would. 

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Brad Todd, Alexandria, VA; partner in the media, polling, and strategic consulting firm, OnMessage Inc., whose television ads for Michael Steele’s U.S. Senate campaign in the state of Maryland won wide acclaim as some of the best of the year. 

In 2008, there will only be one acceptable answer to Roger Mudd’s question – a clear definition for America’s role in the world during a time of great transition. For this election, the job will choose the person and not vice versa.

The world America leads has economic and cultural challenges more complex than ever before. Information and technology bring prosperity – and the potential for instant unrest — within reach of even the darkest corners. 

For 200 years our nation led because it emerged not from tribalism or geography, but because we collectively committed to one principle of absolute individual freedom endowed by the Creator.

In previous times of upheaval, military or economic muscle, exercised for its own sake, moved nations.  But now, technology and economic revolution let the eyes of two hundred nations watch one – and in a short window we will either win over half a world or lose it to relativism forever. This window tests the depth of our own convictions – are we who we say we are? Does our commitment to freedom obligate us to lead?

We face the same test on a different scale domestically: relativism challenges traditional mores, government elitism threatens individual enterprise, and hedonism tempts our long-agreed-upon obligations of compassion.

The successful 2008 candidate must motivate America to be an advocate of freedom and the perfect example of it – even when that requires sacrifice.

Roger Mudd’s question this year is not “why do you want to lead” but “how should America lead.” 

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Duf Sundheim, Palo Alto, CA; attorney and outgoing Chairman of the California Republican Party who, during his four year tenure, oversaw the recall of Gray Davis as Governor and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as his successor.

Under our administration there will be a new burst of freedom. Just as Galileo used technology to show the sun was the center of our solar system, we will use  technology to put the individual, not the government, at the center of our lives.

Students, their parents and teachers – not the bureaucracy – will chart the direction, depth and speed best for the student. Similar changes will be brought to health care and retirement. You should not have to stay at a job just to maintain insurance coverage or your pension.  Concern for the individual, transferability, privacy, low taxes – those will be terms synonymous with our administration.

It is incredible we still drive cars using the same energy Teddy Roosevelt used a century ago. New technologies will be encouraged not only to expedite a transition to new energy sources but to also create high paying jobs, make our lives healthier, our environment sustainable and our country less dependent on foreign oil.

The number one responsibility of the President is the protection of the American people. The struggle against extremism is not Vietnam. The Viet Cong never were going to follow us home. The extremists have already been here. Consequently, the top priority of my administration will be to protect us from those who want to destroy us and our way of life.

And finally, most important to me personally, I promise from the day I take the oath of office, to strive to earn and retain your trust. 

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Mary Matalin, Alexandria, VA; presidential advisor, author, radio talk show host and television commentator, who currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of Threshold Editions, a conservative publishing imprint of Simon & Schuster. 

Forget answering, “Why I want to be President”; the critical articulation for 2008 Republican presidential aspirants is, “Why I am a conservative.”

After the 2006 midterms, many Americans are wondering if the GOP remains grounded in a center right philosophy, or for that matter, just what modern conservatism is.

For their own fortunes, the Party, and, of course, the country, 2008 candidates must reaffirm those principles that motivated the growth of the conservative movement and the policies that made it the majority governing party.

The bedrock principles have not changed; the party stopped enacting policies derived from them, starting with the foundational concept of individual freedom. Nothing stifles individual potential (and the progress produced by it) more than bloated, intrusive government, except perhaps resistance to bold, necessary reform of antiquated systems that under gird our standard of life and quality of living.

Ironically, Information Age technology provides more tools to tackle tough kitchen table problems, but our imagination has not kept pace with innovation. Like President Bush, the new century conservative leader must combine a soul for reform and a mind for innovation to find practical solutions to the increasingly unavoidable issues of retirement security, health care costs, energy security, immigration and global  competition.

new century conservative must convey this will not be another American century if we do not eradicate the current threat of global jihadism and remain vigilant of the looming threat of China. Peace through strength is as imperative today as it was when Reagan faced down 20th century threats.

Conservatism was born of a faith in the American character; nurtured by a relentless optimism and confidence in our abilities. The victorious candidate will be one who authentically taps into America’s exceptionalism that drew its citizens to conservative government in the first place.

RF

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