Two politically savvy minds addressed the climate of the campaign season at CBICC’s membership luncheon on Thursday.
The Chamber of Business & Industry of Centre County hosted a discussion between Mark Singel and Charlie Gerow at the Nittany Lion Inn.
Singel, former Pennsylvania lieutenant governor/acting governor, is the president of The Winter Group, a Harrisburg-based government relations firm. Gerow, one-time aide to President Ronald Reagan, is the CEO of Quantum Communications.
The pair offered their thoughts on the election season and what’s next moving forward — answering questions posed by CBICC CEO Vern Squier and the audience.
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Singel, a Democrat, told the audience that he and Gerow, a Republican, are from an era when people knew how to reach across the aisle and get things done — a stark contrast to the current state of politics on the national stage.
Singel called the election season “disheartening.”
So much of the campaign is focusing on the personal, not policy, Gerow said, pointing out that each candidate is known by one name — something normally reserved for people in popular culture, like Beyoncé.
For Gerow, the presidential election boils down to two words: “trustworthiness” and “temperament.” More specially, Democrat Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness and Republican Donald Trump’s temperament.
Singel said he thinks voters would rather take a chance on a woman who is “imperfect but steady” rather than the “loose cannon” Trump has shown he will be.
Looking ahead four years, the pair were asked what they think the parties will look like by the next presidential election.
Gerow said the Republican Party is going to have to do some soul searching.
It needs to move past just rehashing Reagan’s policy agenda, he said.
The party can’t live with Trump Republicans, Singel said, but it can’t live without them either.
Republicans were on track to reach out to ethnic minorities, but Trump has “destroyed” that progress, he said.
As for the Democratic Party, there’s the Bernie Sanders phenomenon.
Governing doesn’t come from the fringe, Singel said. It comes from the middle.
Sen. Sanders is an independent from Vermont who pushed Clinton to be more progressive during the primary season.
Gerow said Sanders supporters are going to push, pull and drag Clinton to the left if she’s elected.