Malibu Republicans reflect on their winnings

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Professor Douglas Kmiec

Professor Douglas Kmiec offered the opinion that Americans stood united under President Bush and urged local conservatives to swing Malibu Republican for the next election in his speech to a local organization. A local Democrat says, never.

By Susan Reines/Special to The Malibu Times

Malibu Republicans pledged to turn their precincts red in the next election after Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas Kmiec outlined his vision of the country, which struck a different tone about the state of the nation than most recent press reports have.

Contrary to media accounts of a deeply polarized country, Kmiec said he believed Americans were united under President Bush.

At the monthly meeting of the Malibu Republican Women, Federated, Kmiec said George W. Bush’s winning of every age group except the youngest-18 to 29 year olds-in the Nov. 2 presidential election was evidence of widespread support for the president.

“It seems to me that when you actually take a close look at a number of things, we are not divided at all,” said Kmiec, who served as constitutional legal counsel for Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Kmiec noted that 55 percent of males and 58 percent of whites voted for Bush over his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, though he added that Bush did not win a majority of women or racial minority groups. He said Bush won a majority of votes of high school and college graduates. The audience giggled when Kmiec said the president’s failure to win the highest educated group, those with Ph.D. degrees, “showed that there can be too much of a good thing,” and they applauded when he said a survey of first graders was a landslide for Bush.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the election of 2004 shows us united and shows us America thinks the good guys are winning,” Kmiec told the lunch crowd of about 50 members and guests of the local branch of the Republican organization.

One of the nearly 58 million Americans who voted for Bush’s challenger refuted Kmiec’s claim.

“Unfortunately, it appears to me that the country is even more divided because of the arrogance and basic corruption of this administration,” said Ralph Erickson, president of the Malibu Democratic Club, which has about 400 members to the Republican organization’s 125. “I don’t want to pull any punches because I think he [Kmiec] and I just see the world vastly differently.”

Erickson noted that, though he lost the popular vote to Bush, Kerry received more votes than any other Democratic presidential candidate in the country’s history.

Republicans have delighted in their candidate’s being the first since 1988 to win a majority of the popular vote, while Democrats have countered that Bush’s popular vote win was the slimmest, with a margin of 3.4 million votes, ever for an incumbent president.

Malibu is atypical of America, which overall voted Republican in the recent election, 50.9 percent to 48.1 percent. Malibu voted 62 percent for Kerry and 36 percent for Bush. In Malibu, neither party has a majority, but Democrats outnumber Republicans with 41.8 percent of the 8,772 registered voters compared to the 34.0 percent registered as Republicans. The remaining 24.2 percent either declined to choose a party or affiliated with a smaller party like the Greens or Libertarians.

Kmiec urged his Republican audience to work to get Malibu to vote Republican in the next election.

“We shouldn’t let ourselves off the hook in California,” he said. “As much as the nation is unified, we didn’t deliver our precincts.”

The audience responded with applause and murmurs of changing the political landscape in Malibu for the next election. They said people needed to be better informed and educated about politics.

One audience member said she believed schools were “where the problem is” and Republicans needed to go to classrooms to reach the youngest voters, who chose Kerry by nearly a 10-point margin in this election. Another suggested that the liberal tide was coming from Europe, asking Kmiec, “How can we bring them around?”

Kmiec laid the blame on the media, saying he no longer reads the Los Angeles Times because he believes the “editorial page is now every page.” Kmiec said he gets his news from Republican actor and friend Gary Sinise, who recently sent him a picture of schoolchildren in Iraq smiling with their new books.

Audience members discussed waging a more intense campaign in Malibu for the next election.

Erickson had only a short reply to the Republicans’ determination to take Malibu: “When hell freezes over, Malibu will become Republican.”