KINGMAN - Robert Graham was in Kingman on Wednesday, one day after spending time in New Hampshire for that state's presidential primary. Despite suffering from a bit of jet lag, the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party inspired members of the Mohave Republican Forum - and offered valuable insight into candidates from both parties.
Here's a sample:
"We know (Democrat candidate) Hillary Clinton is under investigation. I heard they have enough information to indict her, but they want to make sure there's no wiggle room because the Clintons are powerful."
If Clinton is indicted, that could be a problem not just for Democrats, but also for Republicans and the nation as a whole.
If Democrat billionaire Michael Bloomberg joins the race, that also could be a problem for Republicans because of the "Ross Perot" factor. While Graham said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism is "despicable," Bloomberg's entry into the race would not hurt Sanders because Bloomberg is a capitalist.
With Republican candidates Carly Fiorina and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie bowing out on Wednesday, voters can "zero in" on the remaining candidates, who will be able to provide longer, more detailed answers.
Clinton's meetings were "very small" and those there to see her "could not be invigorated."
Sanders people were "fired up, they were engaged, but as soon as he opened his mouth and made despicable promises, raises for everybody, free college, free, free, free, people were eating it up."
The promises of free stuff, he said, make Sanders "stiff opposition.
"I do not want that guy as president."
"There was a massive turnout in New Hampshire," he said. "(Donald) Trump won by a commanding lead, 34 percent, and it was obvious the debate damaged (Marco) Rubio."
Rubio in a GOP debate in New Hampshire was mocked for repeating a talking point several times, damaging his momentum and falling to fifth in New Hampshire after polling well in Iowa.
The state of the Arizona Republican Party is strong, he said, with "good tools and the resources to win," but don't expect Graham to endorse any candidates.
"I trust the voters," he said. "My job is to stay neutral. Sometimes, I want to chew my lips off and tell them what I really think, but we have the resources to inform voters."
Voters should pay special attention to this year's Arizona Corporation Commission elections, which features three openings and electing the wrong person "could hit our pocketbooks."
He anticipates Republican candidates for the state House of Representatives will do very well and he expects Republicans will expand their advantage in the state Senate.
On the national elections, Graham said the group is fighting to win Congressional District 1 and he expects six of the nine U.S. Senate and House seats Arizona holds will be held by Republicans.
Whoever prevails, he said, will be the candidate who shakes the most hands. That's how Ohio Gov. John Kasich managed to finish a surprising second in New Hampshire, said Graham.
"If we effectuate a strong ground game, there's nothing better than shaking hands. Who thought Kasich would come in second in New Hampshire? He did two things. He's run a positive campaign the entire time. No slamming the other candidates. The second thing is, he is a workhorse. He knocked on doors. It was snowing so people listened to him. They felt sorry for him."
In an interesting side note, Graham said he witnessed Kasich pull aside an aide for Jeb Bush and said, "You guys spent $36 million here. Can you stop being so negative?"
"Yeah, we're done," the aide reportedly replied.
And another anecdote: Trump, in front of the crowds, puts on his TV game face, said Graham, but away from the crowds and the cameras, "He is unusually nice behind the scene. I wish he'd do more of that."
He said Fiorina is also an "amazing person" and "authentic" when away from the spotlight.
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