Potential presidential candidate visits the OC GOP

I had a chance today to meet Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, at the offices of Scott Baugh, the Chairman of the OC GOP. Huckabee is thought by many to be a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2008.

The meeting was very well attended. Huckabee turned out to be a terrific speaker with a great sense of humor. I took copious notes, which must have looked weird to those in attendance. I also had a number of interesting discussions with some of the candidates who were there, and we’ll get into some of that at the end of this post.

Huckabee spoke about how he was the first person in his entire family to go to and finish college. He is from Hope, Arkansas, and according to his website, “He moved up from lieutenant governor following the resignation of Gov. Jim Guy Tucker. Huckabee became Arkansas’ 44th elected governor after winning the November 1998 election with the highest percentage of the vote ever received by a Republican gubernatorial nominee in Arkansas. He was elected to another four-year term in November 2002.”

Huckabee stressed the fact that 36 governorships are on the line in the upcoming elections, and it is very important to the Republican Party to hang on to as many of those as possible. Inevitably, he posited, Republican governors end up helping our party immensely during presidential elections. He admonished us to make sure that we speak to important issues such as health, education and infrastructure. The GOP must also strive to message of hope to America. Huckabee talked about how we can motivate from fear or hope, but fear can not be sustained.

Huckabee was not afraid to tackle controversial issues. Regarding energy, he said that we cannot keep depending on someone halfway around the world who hates us, alluding of course to Middle East oil producing nations. Huckabee also touched on immigration. “We cannot make everyone happy,” said Huckabee. He cited two caveats, “We should approach this issue with reason and logic, and secondly, regardless of where we are, we need to thank God that we live in a country where people are trying to get in, instead of a country that people are fleeing.”

Huckabee said that the real problem with regard to immigration is that our laws are antiquated. People come here illegally because the process is too cumbersome. He should know. Arkansas has the second fastest growing immigrant community in the U.S.

According to Huckabee, the key to stopping illegal immigration is to bring security and sanity to our border and create an orderly way for people to come here to work. On that issue, Huckabee stated that his state has the lowest unemployment levels in the country, and he challenges anyone to prove that they cannot get a job because of illegal immigrants.

Huckabee mentioned President Ronald Reagan many times during his speech. While talking about how we need to communicate GOP economic policies in a way that illustrates how they impact everyone, he mentioned Reagan as an example of someone who was able not to compromise the GOP issues, but rather to sell them to the average guy. He was impressed by Reagan because he really believed in something and was able to articulate it to the voters.

Baugh asked Huckabee how he was able to get 49% of the African-American vote in his last election. Huckabee responded by saying that we need to build and keep relationships with ethnic communities. Huckabee stated that “We need to talk about safe neighborhoods, better schools and tax reform that affects everyone, not just those on top.” Huckabee also said that we need to remind folks that the wonderful opportunities in this country would not exist if the government controlled everything.

Huckabee closed his remarks by stating with some emphasis that, “Our message works, we do not have to pander!” Amen to that!

I had an opportunity to meet a couple of dynamic Republican candidates for local office prior to Huckabee’s comments. I was very impressed by Ron Garcia, who is running for the Brea City Council, and Jim Palmer, who is running for the Tustin City Council.

Garcia is a planning commissioner in Brea. He retired from Fannie Mae, and he is a member of the Empowerment Zone Board of Directors in Santa Ana. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County. He is apparently endorsed by the termed out councilman whom he hopes to replace. Garcia is thoughtful and intelligent, and will no doubt be a boon to the OC GOP in north OC. He is having a very unique fundraiser on Monday, August 14, at the Improv in Brea, located at 120 South Brea Bl., from 6 to 8 pm. For a donation of $35, you will be treated to a comedy show and dinner. For more information call (714) 930-5337.

Palmer is the Executive Director of the Orange County Rescue Mission, an organization which serves the homeless in the OC. I asked Palmer about the statistics that show that the OC has more homeless people than LA County. Palmer told me that in truth we don’t; the cited statistics are weighed as a percentage of overall population. He estimates that at any given time we have between 4,000 and 7,000 homeless in the OC, which is still a lot. Fortunately for them, Palmer’s organization is there to help.

Others in attendance included GOP candidate for the 69th Assembly District Ryan Gene Williams, who just got out of the hospital after surgery for a burst appendix; Kermit Marsh, the Westminster City Council member and OC GOP Central Committee Parliamentarian; and Mark Bucher, who is very excited about his re-launch of the OC Education Alliance, which will be supporting conservative school board members in upcoming elections.

I also had a chance to finally meet Ryan Flynn, the Campaign Manager for Tan Nguyen, the GOP candidate for the 47th Congressional District. Flynn was a bit tweaked at me because of my past posts regarding Nguyen. It turns out that Flynn is a personal friend of Nguyen.

I asked Flynn why Nguyen switched to the GOP after running for the House of Representatives as a Democrat two years ago, over in Dana Rohrabacher’s district. According to Flynn, Nguyen was told by his fellow Democrats that he was too conservative, so he left them for the GOP. I also asked what Nguyen is doing to raise more funds for his race. Apparently getting help from the RNC hinges on poll numbers, so the Nguyen campaign is looking at conducting a poll in the next few weeks. Good idea. Nguyen showed us in June that he can beat well known opponents, and that he is willing to spend a lot of his own money. If he can come up with poll numbers that show he has a chance against Loretta Sanchez, all the better. I also asked Flynn why Nguyen is so interested in becoming a congressman. He cited Nguyen’s desire to represent not only his fellow Vietnamese-Americans, but also all the voters in the 47th. I hope to meet with Flynn for coffee in the next week or so and find out more about his candidate. As I told Flynn, I am open-minded – and I know that my readers want to know more about Nguyen.

Kudos to Baugh for putting together an interesting and enjoyable luncheon. I like what I heard from Huckabee today – he would make an excellent presidential or vice presidential candidate for the GOP.

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.