I was able to catch much of Charlie Baker’s teleconference with GOP delegates tonight. The campaign has done a bunch of these so far, but this is the first one I was able to listen in on.
Charlie started by going over the campaign’s progress to date. He mentioned how many events he’s been to, went over the fund-raising success and how 10,000 people have signed up to support the campaign so far. There was more, but due to some parenting responsibilities, I missed a good portion of the intro.
I did catch all the Q&A where Charlie fielded questions on a variety of topics. He was first asked about the Lawrence bailout plan. He stated very plainly that he would not support any bailout of any city or town without a fiscal control board put in place. Next he was asked about casinos, and his take on the recent movement on that issue. Charlie stated he supported 1 resort casino in MA, and was open to slots at the local race tracks. He made a point of mentioning that he thought numerous resort casinos in MA were a mistake. Subsequently, Charlie touched upon how the state needed to do more to support manufacturing in the Commonwealth. He directed a questioner on this topic to the new video where he addresses these issues in more depth.
Charlie was asked and answered standard policy questions on the following: taxes – supports 5% income and sales tax and the repeal of the sales tax on alcohol, immigration – against drivers license’s and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, and tolls on the NH border – he’s against them. There were also some random issues that came up regarding the wish of two questioners for a Governor to have offices in different areas of the Commonwealth (Western MA and Lawrence in particular).
On health care, Charlie gave an intriguing answer when asked about the President’s current proposals. Charlie mentioned that he was against the current status quo on health care. He spoke of numerous reform proposals he made to the government during his time as the head of Harvard Pilgrim, and how he felt that nearly anything was better than the way things are. That is, until he researched the Obama plan. “Leave it to the Democrats to take a system in need of reform, and come up with a way to make things worse.”
I was interested in his response to a self-described “social conservative” who asked Charlie to give him a reason to vote for him. Charlie took the question head-on and stated that his focus was on the economy, fiscal and budgetary issues and regulatory policy; and that he had no intention to be a social crusader. Then, he touched upon his positions on some social issues: abortion – he’s for parental consent and against partial birth abortion, gay marriage – he’s for it, gun ownership – supports the 2nd amendment. He ended by mentioning his hard line stance on crime and how Plymouth D.A. Tim Cruz has been a key adviser for him on these issues. The questioner seemed impressed and supportive of Charlie after their exchange.
Overall, I thought the call went very well for Charlie. He came off as knowledgeable on the issues, and with a purpose and desire to improve the economy and budget issues in Massachusetts.