An indignant Rep. Robert K. Dornan confronted Orange County home builder Kathryn Thompson during the "Larry King Live" television program Friday, claiming that he did not threaten her construction business because of her recently announced support for Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton.
Thompson and Western Digital Corp. Chairman Roger Johnson, key fund-raisers for the GOP, appeared on the nationally televised Cable News Network show to discuss their dramatic defection last week from President Bush's camp to Clinton's. Representing a pro-Bush Republican viewpoint was House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich.
Asked by substitute host Bob Beckel if there had been repercussions from their decisions to support the Democratic ticket, Thompson responded that Dornan "has been pretty outrageous in saying that my actions were going to have dire consequences on my businesses, which of course is probably not too much of a surprise. And Congressman (Dana) Rohrabacher certainly has been very visible and very vicious in his attack."
But Thompson and Johnson said that overall, the response has been very supportive.
"I think, for some reason, we seem to have struck a chord with a lot of people," Johnson said.
Later in the show, Dornan (R-Garden Grove) called in and said that he did not mean to personally threaten Thompson's business during an interview with a newspaper reporter. But Dornan said he believed that a Clinton presidency would hurt businesses like hers.
"Over the next year, if we get a disastrous Jimmy Carter presidency with 21% interest rates and 14% inflation, it could hurt your construction business," Dornan said.
The congressman went on to complain that Thompson had raised money for a political opponent, former Superior Court Judge Judith Ryan, charging that "this is not the first time you have left the Republican Party."
Thompson contended that she did not leave the party when she served as finance chairwoman for Ryan's unsuccessful primary campaign against Dornan this year.
During a discussion of the issues, Thompson and Johnson said they had become disenchanted with Bush because of his lack of leadership on issues such as the failing economy.
Referring to Clinton, Johnson said: "This guy is not the Democrat that I am used to knowing. I think he has a different vision for the country. I think he's not a divide-the-wealth, economic-welfare-state kind of person that I am afraid my party is trying to scare people into."
Johnson also said he supports Clinton's plans for providing incentives to business to help spur economic growth.
Added Thompson: "There's no long-term economic policy for the country, and I think it's time to let the youth, enthusiasm and excitement of a Bill Clinton ticket have a go at it."
Gingrich called Clinton a "terrific professional politician and maybe the most charming Democratic nominee since John Kennedy."
But the congressman predicted that a Clinton presidency would lead to laws strengthening labor unions, a 9% tax increase for small businesses to pay for health-care benefits and other tax hikes for the wealthy.
"I would love to talk to both of these folks about a year from now, if we do have a Clinton presidency, and see how they are feeling about the tax rate and about the things they have seen during the year," Gingrich said.