Thursday, August 19, 2010

Roth Caught Without a Roadmap

All three of the remaining GOP candidates for WI-8 appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio this week. As I mentioned on Monday, I didn't think that Reid Ribble or Terri McCormick had won many converts with their performances, and this created an opening for Roger Roth during his appearance on Tuesday. Overall, I thought Roth had the strongest performance, but it wasn't perfect by any means.

Roger had the best short answer to why he was superior to his GOP primary opponents. This centered around his unique mix of experience in business, in the state legislature, and in the military, which made him ready to "lead from day one." His answer was succinct and sincere and was likely to catch on with voters paying attention.

He went on to draw a distinction between himself and his opponents on the issue of immigration. Arguing that he was strong on securing the border, and always has been. For those of us following the primary closely, this was obviously a shot at Ribble. The only problem is that I'm not sure many voters are paying that close of attention. Roth could have made this stronger by saying something along the lines of "unlike at least one of my opponents, I have always been in favor of taking a tough stance on immigration." In a forum like a public radio interview, there is a very fine line between distinguishing yourself and turning people off with an attack on your opponent, so it's hard to fault Roth on this score.

On the other hand, Roth's answer to one call-in question had the feel of a "not ready for prime-time moment." The caller was clear and concise, asking Roth whether or not he would support Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future. In response, Roth admitted that he had not read all of Ryan's Roadmap. To which I could only reply, "what?" If you are a serious GOP candidate from Wisconsin, the one policy proposal you had better be ready to discuss in detail is Ryan's Roadmap.

Not only has the Roadmap gotten national attention, it is the only substantive major GOP proposition to reform entitlements currently being considered. Add to this the fact that Ryan is from Wisconsin, and this guarantees that the Roadmap will be an issue in the general election, including here in the 8th.

Additionally, just prior to this question Roth gave a lengthy answer on the fact that he did not favor privatization of Social Security. An answer that will no doubt help him in the general election, but maybe not so much with primary voters.

Overall, Roth did the most to help his cause among the three candidates during these radio interviews. Even so, it is clear that the GOP in WI-8 has some things to learn if we plan to defeat Steve Kagen in November.

Here is a link to the Ribble, McCormick, and Roth interviews on Wiscosin Public Radio.


Paul - Berry Laker said...

Roth stubbed his toe on the road map for sure. He doesn't have long to get with the program.

On SS. He should really get on the privatize SS band wagon. The system is broke and needs to be fixed. I don't think Private SS is that much of a big issue now.

Some tough decisions have to be made and someone with guts will have to do it.

Roth needs to do his homework.

Thanks for your post.

Drew said...


I think Roth's answer on the Road Map was refreshing. Other candidates like Ribble cling to it--which is incredibly ironic because he rails against "career politicians" on one hand but sings the praises of actual career politicians like Ryan on the other--but Roth had the candor to admit he doesn't know it word for word while offering up ideas of his own.

And you're right, some tough decisions on Social Security do need to be made, and Roth is apparently the only candidate who has done his homework.

Privatization alone isn't the answer and it would, as Roth said, make the problem worse to some extent because it's taking money out of a system that's almost bankrupt and needs every penny it can get.

Roth is the only candidate I've heard talk honestly about the issue in the past 7 months because he admitted that there are only three levers you can pull to actually fix the system--raise taxes, raise the age or cut benefits (something the highly conservative and respected Heritage Foundation has said as well).

Seems to me like Roth has the guts to make the tough decisions you speak of.

Dale said...

You guys all know that I am a Roth supporter. I listened to all three and had the same reaction as Jeremy. Roger was the clearest and presented himself better than the other two. Ribble came in 2d, Terri lost me several times. She has to stop trying to make everyone think she is smarter. It makes her sound...well...stupid.

I asked Roger about the Ryan’s Roadmap earlier in the campaign. He has read much of the Roadmap and he agrees with most of it. But he also does not want to run on someone else's plan; he wants to run on his own plan, ideas and principals. Like Drew, that is one thing about Roger that I have grown to admire in watching and working him the four years while my State Rep. He is own person..

As for SS, Roth was pretty clear. Once we stabilize SS we can talk about some privatization, in fact he said...and I am paraphrasing because I don't have the exact quote..."After we stabilize the program, if we can allow people to place a percentage of their contribution in a private account and keep the program solvent, I would support that."

Anonymous said...

Interesting how Roger clings to what could be a questionable unique mix of experience and has from day one.

Jeremy R. Shown said...

Brad - care to expand on that? I thought Roth's experience in three distinct areas was his strength, but you don't seem to agree.

Dale said...


What is questionable about his experience. Is he not a small buissness owner, a veteran with 4 Middle East tours and a two time State Representative?

David said...

Dale, please expand on your statement: "Is he not a small buissness owner, a veteran with 4 Middle East tours and a two time State Representative?" The time-line doesn't seem to work for me and I'm trying to work it out.
In 2003 he joined the WI Air National Guard.
In 2007 he was elected to the State Assembly.
That's four years, I can see getting in four short tours in - with training and such. (I'm thankful for his service, although I don't think he served in Afghanistan even though he said he served on the front lines there in a debate in Shawano)
Where in that time-line though, was he creating "hundreds of jobs" in his small business? That's a lot of homes being built when the economy was tanking. That's also a lot of time spent working for the government, not the private sector. It seems trumped up to me.

Dale said...

David, one tour was in support of Noble Eagle. The three tours were in Iraq in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

The Air Force, both active and reserve deploy for 3-6 months per tour. Because the Air Force deploys Air Wings forward, they simply fall in on a wing already in country and start the mission. The Army and Marines must bring all thier stuff so it does not pay to deploy for less than 8-9 months.

I have been to three forums and never heard Roth say he has been to Afghanistan. All his lit says Iraq. I think you may have misunderstood. When he said "I served on the front lines" I am sure he was talking about Iraq because in 2006 and 2008 Iraq was the main effort and in Iraq and Afghanistan everybody is on the front line. It is an asymmetrical battlefield. There are no linear lines separating the enemy from you. The privite working on a computer risks his life everyday taking a shower....I'm not shitting you...I have been in a mortar attack while taking a shower.

In response to working at the family buissness while being a state rep. The Wisconsin Legislature is a part time legislature. They are only in session about 100 days a year and most rep's are either retired from another job and collecting a pension, are independently wealthy or are involved in another buissness venture since the job only pays $49,000 a year. For example Dean Kaufert owns a bar and a taxidermy shop, Steve Weikert (when a rep) owned several small buissness. Roger has worked at Roth and Sons since the early 90's and in a management role since 1997. He is currently is a part owner in a management and investment LLC. BTW, when you build one house, hundreds of jobs are involved from the guy nailing the beams to the guy making the shingles and the logger cutting down the tree. Reid Ribble makes the same claim.

Roger is a very energetic and dynamic guy who is involved in a lot of things. If you took the time to look at the things that Roth's primary opponents claim they have been involved you would note they all juggled more than one role at a time. I have no doubt that Reid was President of The Ribble Group. President of the NRCA, board member of the YMCA and a church leader at the same time nor would I call him out on it. People who want to be Congressmen/women are Type A people.

If you want to, you can rationalize a hole in anyone's statement.