Delaforum

News

February  9,  2012

Castle favors Romney as a candidate
while expecting a close election race

Former Congressman Mike Castle endorsed Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination.

"Romney is, by far, the most qualified," he told an audience at the University of Delaware Institute of Lifelong Learning, adding that he has "serious doubts" about the ability of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum or Ron Paul to effectively handle the myriad responsibilities -- domestic and international -- that fall to the President of the United States. Castle served with all three of them during the 18 years that he was in Congress.

It is "too early to call" the outcome of the presidential election, he said. "I have no doubt it's going to be close. ... It all depends on the economy."

He did indicate that he sees a possibility that Republicans can take complete control of Congress. With mostly Democrats facing election in the upper chamber, they may win a majority of the 100 seats in the Senate, but neither they nor the Democrats will be able to muster the 60 votes required to break a fillibuster, he predicted. Republicans probably will be able to add a few seats to their lead in the House of Representatives aided by reapportionment of congressional districts in key states which have Republican governors and legislatures.

In a wide ranging talk to the audience of seniors on Feb. 8, Castle, a Republicam, said the tone of the campaign for his party's nomination could reverberate on the candidate who eventually gets the nomination. "There has been some pretty nasty stuff. It's hurting the Republicans in many respects. I'm not sure the harm can be repaired," he said.

So far, he continued, "Republicans are not putting forth any good ideas. They're more interested in attacking [President] Obama."

The so-called 'Super Pacs' are already playing a major role as a result of the Supreme Court decision permitting companies, unions and others with deep pockets to make unlimited contributions to campaigns through political action committees. "While you send $50 to your favorite candidate some company is sending $1 million to a 'super pac'," he said.

"I believe the Supreme Court made a huge error in that decision."

The mainstream news media, meanwhile, has become "openly biased" in support of their chosen political ideology, Castle said. That bias is magnified in talk-show hosts and political bloggers.

He said the influence of the ultra-conservative Tea Party "has begun to wane somewhat" but cautioned that it would not be wise "to underestimate what they can do."

Castle was upset in 2010 by Tea Party-backed Christine O'Donnell in a primary election when he sought the Republican nomination to run for the Senate seat vacated by Vice President Joe Biden. O'Donnell subsequently lost the election to Democrat Chris Coons. Elsewhere in the nation, however, several Republicans who received Tea Party support won election, mainly to the House of Representatives. The resultant Tea Party caucus has been blamed for what many consider a deadlocked Congress.

The caucus "has made it difficult for [Speaker of the House John] Boehner to get anything done," Castle said. Congress members "are elected to serve their constituents and the country and that's not being done."

On the other hand, he said, Tea Party advocates have brought about a "focus on major fiscal problems." Those problems "simply can't contiue."

With regard to spending, he said, "I don't think there's a single department of our government that cannot stand a [budget] reduction." He added that he was including the Department of Defense in that comment. On the revenue side of the ledger, he said that "we may see a serious effort to revamp the tax code" after the election. Specifically, he called for rationalizing tax credits and 'loopholes' while producing a code that "some of us can understand."

In any event, he added, "Something has to be done; it just can't be talked about."

2012. All rights reserved.