McCarthy’s and Issa’s GOP convention gaggles

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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    One bright spot at the Republican convention:

    The third one didn’t show up, so they didn’t have to rent another phone booth.

  • John W.

    Good one Elwood! As what Ike called “a discerning Democrat,” I truly wish we had some “discerning Republicans” in CA so that we could have more balance in State government. As it is, I’m stuck having to choose between Democrats owned by public employee unions and a party so far right that the Ronald Reagan they worship would probably be booed as a moderate, as though that is a bad thing.

  • John W.

    McCarthy’s and Issa’s comments are a hoot.

    “This is not about contraception, this is about religious freedom.” Not very many people are buying that guys, including Catholic rank and file.

    “Party must…find a path to citizenship for people already here.” Whoa! Have you checked in with your House GOP caucus on that?

    “Are we better off than we were three years ago [i.e., before Obama was sworn in.] Considering that we were on the brink of a collapse as bad or worse than the Great Depression, hell yes! Have to admit though, Bin Laden definitely is not better off.

    “I think she [DiFi] has served the state fairly well,” yet is out of of touch with what the nation needs.” Hey, one out of two ain’t bad!

    Re the Newtster: “I’d be in Tampa cheering for the smartest man about to take the office since Thomas Jefferson.” TJ should sue!

    About drilling off the coast: “You don’t want to rush into anything.” Remember that, fellas, when y’all gather in Tampa and the rowdies again interrupt their frequent “USA, USA” chants to scream “Drill Baby Drill!”

  • For Liberty

    “I’d be in Tampa cheering for the smartest man about to take the office since Thomas Jefferson.”

    This guy needs to study up more on Thomas Jefferson, before he is allowed to make comments like that.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    The hearing wasn’t called to discuss access to contraceptives, despite the official liberal party line to the contrary. The issue is coercion of faith-based institutions. The current administration takes the position it is neutral in matters of religious scruples. In fact, the liberal leadership snipes at any display of religion in public view, even in this instance. And let’s stop using liberal to describe the Pelosi-Boxer-Lee crowd. They are definitely left of center on nearly all issues.

  • joseywalesz

    The deal has gone down , hillary will step down as the exact truth of FAST AND FURIOUS” will step down . We have a cover-up of the the the reinstatement … of clinton assault weapons ban . Democrats are communists will take our guns away

  • John W.

    Re: #5 “The hearing wasn’t called to discuss access to contraceptives…”

    Correct. It was called to bash the administration, a game plan that seems to have backfired, and justly so.

    There were some good letters on the issue, pro and con, in the Forum section of the CC Times Saturday. Before all this blew up, 28 states already had health insurance contraceptive mandates. Most have some type of limited religious conscience exemption, but 8 states don’t even have the church exemption that was in the initial administration rule. That includes the “live free or die” state of New Hampshire — not exactly a leftish stronghold. So, why haven’t the bishops and Republicans been screaming about the war on religion by all these states? This is political BS.

    A hospital or university that employs and serves people of all backgrounds is not a religious institution. Many of these hospitals and schools already provide contraception coverage. You don’t hear the bishops or GOP screaming about that.

    We can argue about whether the mandates themselves are good policy. But if that’s the law, the employees of those organizations should have the same legal entitlements (contraceptive coverage in this case) as anybody else. Otherwise, we’re granting an exemption so the Catholic Church can impose it’s teachings on the people they employ. So much for religious liberty! By the way, providing the coverage probably doesn’t net cost the insurers or the institutions a dime. They save money by not having to pay greater costs associated with unwanted pregnancies.

  • John W.

    Re: #6

    “Democrats are communists will take our guns away.

    What, pray tell, has Hillary got to do with “Fast and Furious?”

    It’s true, we Democrats are the reincarnation of Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin. We definitely are out to take your guns away, and your steak knives too. Better ammo up while you still can. We’ll be knocking on the door any day now and hauling you off to the Gulag.

  • Elwood

    @ #8

    Well it took joseywalesz to get you to confess your true nefarious intentions!

    Now we know!

  • John W.

    Re #9

    My Uncle Leon, from the Trotsky side of the family was a real hoot!

  • For Liberty