Ambassador, Bush advisor talks politics at Cowan Center
A former senior adviser for President George W. Bush's Administration spoke Thursday evening on her hope for a Mitt Romney victory on Tuesday as part of the 2012- 2013 Distinguished Lecture Series at The University of Texas at Tyler.
Ambassador Karen Hughes worked for former President George W. Bush in his state and federal campaigns, becoming a senior adviser to the governor and president. She held the title of executive director of the Texas Republican Party, Under Secretary for Public Affairs, Counselor to the President and is the global vice chair of Burson-Marsteller, an international public relations firm.
She has been described by The Associated Press as perhaps the most influential woman to ever serve an American president and has traveled to more than 50 countries as under secretary to the Bush administration, according to information from UT Tyler.
"It's coming down to the wire, it's very close," she said. "Governor Romney seems to have momentum. Those on my side of the alley certainly hope so."
Mrs. Hughes said her friend, political consultant Karl Rove, predicted a Romney victory Thursday with 279 electoral votes.
She said Americans are deeply concerned with the direction of the country, with a steady unemployment rate of 8 percent, worries about the debt crisis in Europe having a ripple effect on the U.S. and a slow economic recovery.
"At the heart of our American dream is the notion that if you work hard and make the right decision that your children will have the opportunity to live in a better world ..." she said. "I think my generation of Americans, the baby boomers, are genuinely worried (their children) might not inherit a world that is as stable secure and prosperous as we have enjoyed."
Ambassador Hughes said the nation is $16 trillion in debt and advancing at a rate of $1 billion a year for the next four years. She said if changes are not made to Medicare and Social Security programs, an added $20 trillion could rack up over the next 10 years, bringing the national debt to an estimated $26 trillion.
"If you listened to the president, you would think all we needed to make our problems go away is to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires, (but that) is simply not true ..." she said. "Raising taxes ... on millionaires and billionaires will garner $440 billion over the next 10 years. ... It's hard to call a billion dollars a drop in the bucket, but it's nothing compared to the size of trillions of dollars in debt that we are accumulating."
Ambassador Hughes then identified four qualities that make Romney the better choice for president.
She said he has extensive experience making executive decisions; whereas President Barack Obama comes from a legislative background and often sublets decision to Congress. She said Romney is a "turnaround specialist" with experience making Salt Lake City Olympics to being profitable as well as rescuing companies in the private sector. She said he knows how to create jobs and is strong in his Christian faith, adding Christians are held accountable to a higher power and are less likely to be swayed by polls or lobbyists.
Hughes said the turning point for the Romney campaign came when undecided voters saw his performance in the presidential debates. But, she said, in the end, the decision will be made by nine to 12 swing states.
"They weren't quite sure there was a viable alternative, and what they saw in that first debate Governor Romney was someone who was very knowledgeable, had a plan and seemed like the kind of leader who would achieve a plan," she said. "I thought he came across presidential."
She said neither candidate is absolutely perfect.
"It comes down to a choice, and that choice is not perfect," she said.