Orange County's congressmen--all conservative Republicans--responded to President Bush's speech Tuesday night with predictable enthusiasm.
The only cautionary note was sounded by Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton), who applauded Bush's handling of the Persian Gulf crisis but said he is worried by his suggestion that the Administration may accept tax increases to reduce the federal deficit.
"If I were an adviser to Saddam Hussein," Dannemeyer said, "I think I might be inclined to observe, 'Mr. Hussein, recall that when President Bush campaigned for the presidency of America, he promised he would not raise taxes . . . and now he has moved away from that pledge. So my advice to you is to determine the resolve of President Bush with respect to his statement about Iraq and the occupation of Kuwait.' I think that is the hole the President has dug for himself."
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Long Beach), who worked in the White House as a speech writer when Ronald Reagan was President, was unequivocal in his praise of Bush.
"Here's the man who was portrayed by his political adversaries only two years ago as a wimp," Rohrabacher said. "This is the most unwimpish President we've had in this century."
Rohrabacher, who represents the coastal section of northwestern Orange County, added: "If I were Saddam Hussein, after seeing that speech and the unity in that hall, I'd conclude I was in big trouble."
Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) said that as long as Bush "can continue to lay out . . . simple and straightforward policy objectives in the gulf, he can continue to count on (the) support" of Congress and the American people.
A strong opponent of oil drilling off California's coast, Cox said he was encouraged by the President's reference to the need for tax measures to encourage development of domestic oil resources, a reference Cox said he took to mean onshore oil resources.
Despite Dannemeyer's concern about new taxes, Cox said he believes Bush's speech was crafted specifically to avoid that issue. "It seemed to me that the speech at the very least steered clear of such controversy," Cox said.
Rep. Ron Packard (R-Carlsbad), said Bush "made it rather clear that we've got work to do in the Congress, and that the Administration will cooperate. . . . He frankly said if we don't have a budget agreement at the end of the month, we go to sequestration--no more smoke and mirrors."
Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove), one of the President's staunchest backers, said, "The thing I found stunning was the Democratic response. It was the most stunning support from the loyal opposition since the Second World War."
A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Dornan said the President during his discussion of the budget crisis properly cautioned against cutting too deeply into the defense budget.
"We may not be able to totally eliminate Saddam Hussein from power," Dornan said.
"If (Hussein) were to pull back from Kuwait and hunker down, and drive toward that goal of nuclear weapons, how could we stop him in five years? The only way we could do it is with a Strategic Defense Initiative and the B-2 bomber."
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