Republican strategist Bay Buchanan urged an audience of gay conservatives on Monday to remain optimistic that Mitt Romney will win the presidential race.
“We have the message,” Buchanan said. “We have the candidate, we now have the momentum and the energy and the excitement on our side, and the undecideds are breaking our way.”
Buchanan addressed a crowd of about 65 at the Hotel Monaco in D.C. during the gay conservative group GOProud’s “Unity” event, which was aimed at building support for Romney a month prior to the election.
Blaming the media for the polling disparities between Obama and Romney — which were heightened after the release of the “47 percent” video — Buchanan said, “There were some mistakes on our part, and they managed to do their best to make it much worse than it really was.”
But Buchanan, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, said polls are narrowing thanks to the Romney campaign’s engagement with the local media across the country and Romney’s performance in the first presidential debate last week.
“At each question, he had such a command of the issue, and the way he spoke, it was clear he is also a caring man,” Buchanan said. “He is concerned, but he also happens to be perfectly competent, clear in thought, understands the issues, has some answers out there and he truly has the kind of courage necessary to do the job that is necessary to put Americans back to work.”
Buchanan also disparaged Obama’s performance during the debate, saying, “You got to give the guy a break. Can you imagine an hour-and-a-half of trying to defend that record?” The audience responded with peals of laughter.
No explicit mention of LGBT issues was made during the speech, but Buchanan conveyed a sense of solidarity with the audience of gay conservatives over the issue of the economy.
“The economy and jobs is the most serious issue the country faces, and we face these issues together,” Buchanan said.
Prior to her remarks, Buchanan refused to take questions from the Washington Blade. She shook hands after her speech with a number of attendees in the room who thanked her for her work.
Buchanan’s attendance at the event was noteworthy because she managed the three presidential campaigns of her brother Pat Buchanan, who in his 1992 speech before the Republican National Convention said the GOP stands with then President George H.W. Bush against the “amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.”
Just in May on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Buchanan responded negatively to President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, saying the move would be politically costly for Democrats in battleground states.
“They have trouble, we now have Mitt Romney, who’s always been opposed to gay marriage, I might add,” Buchanan said at the time. “But that is where America is. You have 32 states out there who have banned it. They have never won on the ballot. And so what happens in North Carolina now? This is great in Iowa, in several states, but 32 of them are with us. I think it’s no question if this was good politics for Barack Obama, he’d have done it a long time ago. He wouldn’t have been dragged kicking and screaming to do this.”
But the audience seemed largely unconcerned about Buchanan’s position on LGBT issues or the lack of any mention of them.
Jose Romero, 34, a gay D.C. resident, said he came to the event because “it’s time for a change” and after four years of the Obama administration “people aren’t in a better place than they were four years ago.”
“I think everyone has their own issues that are important to them and not everyone’s No. 1 issue is getting married,” Romero said. “The economy, international politics, those types of issues are more important, I think, to some people than others.”
Jimmy LaSalvia, GOProud’s executive director, introduced Buchanan, reminding them his organization is the only national gay organization to endorse Romney because “on issue after issue, a Romney administration would be better for gay Americans, indeed all Americans.”
“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand the single most important issue facing this country right now is the issue of jobs and the economy,” LaSalvia said. “President Obama wants to run this race on social issues. He talks about abortion and gay marriage and contraception — anything that distracts from his failed record on jobs and the economy.”
LaSalvia praised Romney’s performance in the debate last week, saying Romney exemplified the conservative approach to economic prosperity, while Obama was “stammering and stuttering to defend his record.”
But LaSalvia also explained that the presidential race is one of three key races in which his organization has issued endorsements. The GOProud chief touted his organization’s endorsement of Tommy Thompson in the U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin against lesbian Tammy Baldwin as well as Linda McMahon in the U.S. Senate race in Connecticut, who on Sunday came out for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Additional endorsements, LaSalvia said, will be made in coming weeks.