KEYNOTE SPEECH DECIPHERED
AUGUST 13, 1996
Elizabeth Farnsworth is joined by three prominent Republicans, Ann Stone of Republicans for Choice and Representatives Roukema and Ross-Lehtinen, to discuss Susan Molinari's keynote address.
Aug. 13:The transcript and RealAudio for Susan Molinari's convention keynote speech .
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Now more reaction to Susan Molinari's speech. We get it from two of her House colleagues, Rep. Marge Roukema of New Jersey, Rep. Ileana Ross-Lehtinen of Florida, and Ann Stone of Republicans for Choice. Thank you all for being with us. Beginning with you, Congresswoman Roukema, what did you think of the speech?
REP. MARGE ROUKEMA, New Jersey: I thought it was a great speech, it really was. It was not only inspirational and dynamic, but it was in the very tangible way a message to the American people that here is a young woman representing young families that are working hard to keep their families together to bring the paycheck home, and to speak to the real angst in society today, which is, are our jobs going to be out there, and what is our future for our children? And I think she was tangible. She's right there. And you know what? It also sent the message that we're not just the country of--I mean, the party of country club Republicans. This was a message to young, working families that we reach out to them and their children.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: And Congresswoman, what did you think?
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, (R) Florida: Oh, absolutely. I think just Susan embodies what we want to do as a party to reach out to other groups. We need not just white Anglo-Saxon males to support us. We need women. We need minorities. We especially need young people and working families, and I think that she touched all of those points. I was surprised to have her refer to Social Security and Medicare. Well, I think we do have a very good record, and we shouldn't shy away from that as a party. I think we have a right, the right program to reform and restore Medicare so that it's always there for her grandchild and for Susan Ruby as well. So I think she touched on all of the major issues, but especially the theme throughout the convention is the Dole tax plan, how we're going to help working families and everyone will benefit. And I think Susan hit a home run tonight.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Do you agree, a home run, Ann Stone?
ANN STONE, Republicans for Choice: Absolutely, a home run. I was very proud of you. As you may or may not know, Susan actually co-founded my group, Republicans for Choice, so I've worked very closely with her over the years. But absolutely a home run. She spoke in a language that people could understand. And she symbolizes the American dream just as Colin Powell did last night. Last night it was a minority who rose up and made the American dream happen--today it was a woman who, you know, generation after generation, built upon each excessive one, and now her dream has come true. And she is living the American dream and portraying that for people out there.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You know, Mark said--I think it was Mark who said that--mentioned how many pro-choice women have spoken. And I've noticed how many women have spoken. The crime segment, for example, was about rape and a woman spoke about being raped. Rep. Deborah Price spoke about crime. Is this convention aimed partly at overcoming the gender gap? Congresswoman?
REP. MARGE ROUKEMA: Well, I hope it is. I don't think we should apologize or make any explanations over that. I think it's important just as it's important to be speaking about balancing the budget and economic issues. We have to speak to the whole spectrum of issues that is important to the American people. So I don't think that that's the problem. I think that what we have to do, and I think Susan began to do that tonight, is now translate that into very effective programs that people can understand. And I think Ileana started to refer to that. I think she did begin to make that case in language that people can understand.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Do you agree with that?
ANN STONE: Oh, very definitely. In fact, you notice, there were no charts, no graphs, no numbers, and she was talking about people and impact on people, and we've talked to the boys for a long time about the fact that they don't know how to talk to people about impact. Republicans generally tend to pull out the charts and graphs, and it was just a wonderful demonstration of how warm and, and caring that Susan is but it also showed how Republican policies also are not mean-spirited, that there is another side to them to them that the media doesn't always portray.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: And we have, we're learning how to communicate that message better.
ANN STONE: Yes, yes.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: Because I think the principles and the philosophies of our party are always there, are always sound, and people agree with them, but if we have that mean-spirited tone when we deliver it--
ANN STONE: Right.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: --then people perceive that, gee, this is kind of a scary notion, I'm in favor of a balanced budget, but what is it going to mean for me, so we're putting it in human terms. We're talking in terms of compassion, saving lives, not kicking people out of welfare, but saving their lives by reforming welfare. So we're having the same philosophy, the same principles, and just--the messenger is better and the message that includes.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: In some sense, are you saying that the Republican Party did with this convention a little what NBC tried to do with the Olympics, to make things more human, to use personal stories, and that way women would pay more attention?
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: In that way then, Susan gets the gold medal tonight, for sure.
REP. MARGE ROUKEMA: I think that is partly the case, but I would say that we can't end it there. I think if we assume that we only want little vignettes of Susan Ruby on the, on the screen, that would be playing down to women. And I don't think that was the intention here. I think Susan was really beginning to go at--in the time that was available--the real substantive issues, so it was symbolic and it was substantive at the same time.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You know, I interviewed Susan Molinari this morning, and she said that she had faced a gender gap in her own district, that this is something that is fairly--it's been around for a long time. You don't have one, right?
REP. MARGE ROUKEMA: No, I do not.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Why? Women vote overwhelmingly for you.
REP. MARGE ROUKEMA: I can only speculate on it. I am a strong fiscal conservative. People have known me that way for years. I am for the private sector and capital development and investment and saving, but I've also been the leader on issues that are very important to families, whether it's child support enforcement, where I was a pioneer, or whether it's the family medical leave bill, which I'm afraid my party didn't see, didn't have the vision to look at, I think that's why they see me as someone who is fiscally conservative and a good firm Republican but someone who deals with families, whether it be student loans or, or working families.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: So you agree that's the key, though, to overcoming the gender gap?
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN: Well, I don't know that abortion, for example, would have to be the key that makes you cross over that, but certainly the kinds of issues that Deborah Price talked about also, having that compassion for the rape victim, followed up with legislation to make it better for the crime victim, the Sexual Predator Act that Susan referred to that she worked with Sen. Dole on, there's legislation that we can do so that women perceive the Republican Party as being sensitive to their needs and to their problems. We can pass bills to address those issues, not just make these speeches about it.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTHZ: Well, thank you all very much for being with us.
MR. LEHRER: Thank you, Elizabeth.