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More from today’s ‘Young Guns’ shootout in SF

I’ve filed a story about reporters’ meeting this afternoon in San Francisco with House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and GOP House candidates Kim Vann, Abel Maldonado and Tony Strickland, but there were a few tidbits more worth sharing.

Vann, McCarthy, Maldonado and StricklandBefore everyone had even taken their seats around a table in the library of the University Club on Nob Hill, McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, gave a sarcastic disclaimer: “I will accuse no one of giving money to my opponent, we don’t have 16-year-olds doing our research, and the Tesla is a car.”

This, of course, was a reference to Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, who had accused San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders (present at today’s event) of having given money to his Democratic rival, Eric Swalwell (which she had not). Stark also had tried to explain his unsupported accusation that Swalwell had taken bribes from real estate developers by saying his teenage son had fed him erroneous information, and had confused Tesla – which makes electric cars – with Solyndra, the failed solar-cell manufacturer and stimulus loan guarantee recipient.

Responding to a question about Vann’s status as the only female “Young Gun” anointed by the National Republican Congressional Committee in California, McCarthy cited the “five W’s” of campaigning: “When women work, we win.” In addition to a preoccupation with growing the economy and creating jobs, he said, women voters “want to make their own decisions on health care.”

But when asked whether they also want to make their own decisions on abortion choice (which most polls agree they do), McCarthy soon shifted the conversation to the diversity of the GOP’s slate of California House candidates. Perhaps that’s because Vann differs from much of that slate in that she’s pro-choice and the rest are not.

McCarthy noted that Strickland, if successful in November, would be the latest of his former California Legislature colleagues to join him in Congress. “It’s like ‘The Blues Brothers’ – I’m putting the band back together.”

On the escalating speculation over whom Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate will be, McCarthy said the pick will be a reflection of Romney’s decision-making process, and ultimately just as much about him as about that person. “I think he’s doing a great job with that,” McCarthy said, though he declined to speculate because he says he has friends – including Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio – who might be on the short list.

McCarthy did say that for president, “I really won’t support someone who hasn’t been a governor first” – who has had to choose a cabinet, manage agencies and make executive decisions.

Romney, he said, “is a guy who understands risk-taking and the ability to move it forward.” Asked specifically about Romney’s record at the helm of Bain Capital, McCarthy replied, “I believe he created a lot of jobs … In America we know you have to take risks and we know they’re not always going to be successful.”

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.