J. Kyrillos Good morning, everybody. This is Senator Joe Kyrillos, state Senator Kyrillos from New Jersey, also Chairman of the New Jersey Republican Party. I’m going to have some remarks and then introduce Ed Gillespie, the Republican National Chairman, in just a few moments. I know we have some members of the New Jersey press corps on the line, and we thank you all. We have some national press folks as well.
Let me just say that I’m not at all surprised that John Kerry sees fit now to start working hard in New Jersey. He was here today talking to the FLCIO in Atlantic City. This has become a competitive state and we realize it. They must realize it and that’s why they’re spending some time here.
I want to note to the non-New Jersians, who maybe haven’t been following things quite as closely, that we’ve had a series of four or five polls, both public and private; all show this race within the margin of error. It’s quite a surprise to a lot of people - not a surprise to me and those of us supporting the President, working hard for him on his behalf here.
New Jersians have a special connection to this president vis-à-vis 9/11. As a 9/11 state, a lot of people lost their lives who lived here; family members have people that they lost. It hit New Jersey in a very personal and deep way.
New Jersey’s job growth is clearly on the upswing. I note yesterday’s New York Times story that shows New Jersey doing better vis-à-vis our neighbors and the region as a whole. It’s ironic that Governor Jim McGreevey tries to take some pride in that record. Those upbeat economic notes are happening despite his policies: big corporate taxes, new regulations, a reversal of a lot of economic development policies that have made New Jersey the state with the highest per capita income in the country. The President gets the lion’s share of the credit. His tax cuts and his economic policies are working here and New Jersians understand that as well.
A host of issues that New Jersians are frustrated with, like medical malpractice, for example, people identify with the President and understand that he is going to try to make sure that people have a doctor that they can go to when they get sick or when women have to deliver a baby or when their children get sick. We have a real crisis going on here in New Jersey where we’re losing doctors that are leaving sensitive specialties or leaving the state altogether. There’s a real clear contrast between John Kerry and the President on that score.
There’s no secret that this is one of the least popular governors in America, our governor here in New Jersey, Jim McGreevey. It’s not surprising to me that he is serving as a key John Kerry surrogate here and perhaps around the country; they think alike in many, many ways.
I realize this is a tough state. There’s no question about it, but this is a state that elected Ronald Reagan twice, elected President Bush the first time around, had a long reign, Republicans had a long reign in the state legislature, Governor Whitman for eight years. This is a swing state that has leaned Democrat in recent years, but this has become a real competitive battleground. We hope to make sure it stays that way.
Ed Gillespie, I thank you for your interest and focus on this state and want to ask you for your remarks.
E. Gillespie Thank you, Chairman. I am very excited about New Jersey as a competitive state because I am a native of New Jersey - Brown’s Mills. I went to Pemberton Township High School. My family is still much in New Jersey and I’m not that surprised, though some on the national scene are, but I know the state very, very well having grown up here.
I think that Chairman Kyrillos is right; people in New Jersey do understand the importance of the President’s policies; they do appreciate his resolve in winning the war on terror; they know that New Jersey is experiencing job creation as a result of the pro-growth economic policies of this president.
New Jersey gained 9,100 jobs in April alone. The fact is, the unemployment rate of 5.3% is lower than the national average and it has been trending down for the past 12 months. More than 3.3 million taxpayers in New Jersey have benefited from the President’s tax relief packages in 2001 and 2003, both of which were opposed by Senator John Kerry.
Senator Kerry is blocking efforts to provide relief from the high cost of liability insurance, which is a major factor in New Jersey, which is a medical malpractice crisis state. John Kerry stands with the trial lawyers in his party’s base against patients who are footing the bill for the constant litigation, the constant cost of the threat of litigation.
We’re very optimistic about the state. I’m not surprised that John Kerry took his Return to Days of Malaise tour through the Garden State and suspect you’ll see him back there again, trying to keep in the Democratic column what, in the past, had been a reliably blue state for them but is a pretty purple state today.
With that, Joe and I are both happy to take questions.
Question Hi. I guess this is for Chairman Gillespie but both can answer this. Is there a plan to drop a lot of money in New Jersey in terms of ads or get out the vote efforts? Can you talk a little bit about specific strategies, now that New Jersey is in play, that the Republicans are going to use?
E. Gillespie Joe and I have been talking about this for some time and we have a victory plan for New Jersey. I’m not going to go into dollar figures, just because I would rather require the Kerry people and the DNC people to sift through our FEC reports than to read it on the Gannett wire, but, the fact is, there’s a reason that we are having our convention in New York City. It’s a three-for.
We’re competitive. We knew we would be competitive when we chose the location. We knew we would be competitive in the northeast in a way we haven’t been for some time. We were hopeful about New Jersey.
I would remind you, by the way, New Jersey was in play late in the game in 2000. It dropped off quickly for us but, remember, President Bush was there, as I recall, and I was on his campaign. I was in Austin at the time, but, as I recall, President Bush made an appearance in New Jersey in late October, maybe even early November. We had a late election; it was November 7, I believe. I think he was there the first week of November, the last week of October in 2000 because it was viable late in the game.
So we’ve always been optimistic that Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware would be in play for us. Between, obviously, having a presence in New York City around Labor Day and then we’re also obviously very competitive in Pennsylvania and the collar counties of Philadelphia being very important for that state. So the traditional point about the media being so expensive in New Jersey, we’re going to be there anyway, in the media, and we’re going to put a lot of focus on New Jersey on our ground game, on making sure we’re identifying and turning out voters for President Bush, including many Democratic voters who will be Bush supporters. There will be a lot of Democrats for Bush in New Jersey.
Joe, do you want to augment my comments?
J. Kyrillos Joe Kyrillos. Thanks for being on the call. I think Chairman Gillespie kind of summed things up very, very well. I don’t think I could add anything to his answer. Next question?
E. Gillespie Wonderful. Thank you all for participating in the call. Joe, thanks for hosting this. We appreciate it very much.
J. Kyrillos Ed, thank you very much. We’re all proud of Ed Gillespie, a New Jersey native, as he pointed out. I thank everybody for being on the call. Take care.
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