House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Vista, held press gaggles after their speeches to the California Republican Party convention tonight.
Both dismissed concerns that women weren’t adequately heard from at last week’s oversight hearing on religiously affiliated institutions being compelled to provide health care insurance that includes contraception. “This is not about contraception, this is about religious freedom,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the GOP must attract California’s Latino and Asian-American voters “if we ever want to be the majority,” and is poised to do so by touting conservative policies on the economy and education. But “we’ve got a long way to go in the process,” he said, acknowledging the party must find a way to address immigration and a path to citizenship for people already here.
He said he believes social issues will take a back seat to energy and the economy in this election, and that the GOP’s nominee will emerge battle-tested and ready to challenge President Obama. “Are we better off than we were three years ago? No, we are not.”
Issa said he looks forward to a robust debate among the many Republican candidates vying to unseat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. – of which he’s not one, he noted.
“I personally think Senator Feinstein has no intention of serving out another term,” he said, but rather will retire part-way through and let the governor appoint a replacement who later can run as an incumbent.
“I think she has served the state fairly well” yet is out of touch with what the nation needs, Issa said.
As for the presidential race, he said, he believes Mitt Romney is the best choice to improve the economy but if Newt Gingrich winds up as the nominee, “I’d be in Tampa cheering for the smartest man about to take the White House since Thomas Jefferson.”
And asked about oil drilling off California’s coast, Issa said “the question is ‘Can you do it safely?’ Post-BP, you don’t want to rush into anything.” Meanwhile, he said, there are far better opportunities to drill for oil and natural gas on land.