Speaking at an event last week in Orange County, CA, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) said he expected big gains for his party at this year’s election, but said he worried that Republicans would squander the victory, as they had in the past, by nominating a slew of “bad candidates” and having a lackluster commitment to conservative principles:
The American people are about to give Republicans a second chance that we know we don’t deserve, that we haven’t earned. … The American people have every right, and every reason, to blame a Republican president and a Republican Congress for the mess that confronted the Obama administration on January 20, 2009 — let us be honest be about this.
ThinkProgress attended the luncheon at the opulent Center Club in Costa Mesa, which was hosted by the Pacific Research Institute, an oil-funded right-wing think tank.
McClintock — a tea party favorite with a strong libertarian streak — had particularly harsh words for his party’s nominee for governor, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Asked about Whitman following his remarks, McClintock suggested she is not loyal to the “principles of the American Founders,” and said he agrees with her Democratic opponent Jerry Brown as much as he agrees with Whitman:
My loyalty is to the principles of the American Founders. My loyalty to the Republican party and to its candidates extends only so far as they are loyal to those principles. And I don’t see that in the current ticket. Two of the people on the Republican ticket were singularly responsible for biggest tax increase by any state in American history. These are Whitman’s handpicked running mates. […]
I look at all of these things and I realize I agree with her maybe 20 percent of the time. I agree with Jerry Brown about 20 percent of the time. I agree with the libertarians about 80 percent of the time. So I’m not making an endorsement, particularly for that!
McClintock endorsed Whitman’s opponent during the GOP primary, and publicly criticized her during that time. “I’m afraid that if Whitman were the nominee, the Republican base would have no reason to turn out,” he said in April. His comments yesterday were unusually strong for fellow member of the same party so close to the general election.
And while McClintock expressed strong loyalty to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), he acknowledged that the Boehner’s “Pledge to America” governing agenda was somewhat lacking. During his speech, McClintock noted that conservatives were widely disappointed by the “Pledge,” and ThinkProgress asked him afterwards if there is any validity to their criticism. “There’s a lot of stuff I would have liked to see in it, and there are several things I didn’t like to see in it,” he said. And while saying the purpose of the pledge is to lay out “principles” and not necessarily specifics, McClintock admitted that one specific policy prescription — bringing federal spending back to 2008 levels — “doesn’t nearly anyway nearly far enough.”
Listen to a compilation of McClintock’s comments: