GW’s College Republicans talked shop over dinner with Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) at his Capitol Hill home Thursday.
A close friend of CR member Erik Yassenoff and a campus guest speaker last year, the congressman invited 25 students to his old home, which is just five blocks from the Capitol. Kolbe grilled hamburgers and provided snacks and drinks for the guests on his patio.
Kolbe spoke to the CRs about the campaign, the Republican Convention and issues currently before Congress.
With Congress set to adjourn next month for the elections, Kolbe said the Patient’s Bill of Rights and a bill to raise the minimum wage are the only two pieces of the legislation that have a realistic chance of passing before the end of term.
Kolbe said the remaining weeks before the presidential election are critical to Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s campaign for the presidency, especially since Bush has lost momentum recently.
Kolbe said he is confident for a Republican victory in November if Bush pushes his campaign.
He said he expects the Republicans will keep their majority in the Senate, but the House will be a close race.
He also said he was impressed with Rep. Rick Lazio’s (R-NY) performance in Wednesday’s debate with First Lady Hillary Clinton in the New York Senate race.
Kolbe joked about the possibility of President Bill Clinton’s administration winning more leadership positions in the future.
If (presidential candidate Al) Gore wins the White House, and Hillary (Clinton) wins the Senate, I’m getting on a sailboat and going off to the South Sea, he said.
Well known for his strong stance on social security and international trade issues, Kolbe has faced controversy since he spoke openly about being homosexual before the 1998 election.
Kolbe encountered protest from the Texas delegation before his speech at this year’s Republican Convention in Philadelphia. The Republican Party has faced criticism in the past for its lack of acceptance of homosexuals.
Kolbe serves as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service and General Government. He is the second-ranking member on two other committees.
Up for reelection in the fall, Kolbe won by a slim margin in 1998, but said he is confident about this year’s election against Democratic opponent, George Cunningham.
Kolbe has served eight terms in Congress.
CR members said the event was an important energizer for campaign season.
I’m glad we could be here, said Michael Lupo, social director for the CRs. Its great to get to know the congressman and this event shows what kind of great things the GW Republicans can do.
CR Chairman Bill Eldridge said the event was just the beginning for his group.
This was a fun event and we are very happy with how the school year has gone so far but we have many more campaigning and speaking events scheduled in the next few months, Eldridge said.
The CRs have been heavily involved in Virginia politics with the George Allen Senate campaign and are traveling there almost every weekend, Eldridge said.
Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) will speak on campus Sept. 21, and politician and political pundit Oliver North will visit GW in October.
Ending the event with a group picture, CR members expressed their overall excitement with the evening.
He is one of the nicest guys in the Congress and it was a very successful evening, said Shannon Flaherty, vice chair of the CRs. There is no better place to go to school than D.C. if you like politics.