By Robert J. McCarthy
RYE BROOK -- It was almost as if New York Republicans invited the "conscience" of the party to address their state convention Wednesday.
Larry Kudlow, the recently retired CNBC host and Reagan administration veteran, told Republicans from around New York at the Rye Town Hilton that while the Benghazi incident and IRS scandals will have a place in the national conversation this year, the GOP will succeed only by concentrating on the economy and a "big tent" policy that reaches out to all.
"This election will be decided on the lousy economy and the ridiculous effort to nationalize health care," he said of the national mid-term elections. "That's where we have to make our stand."
Kudlow, who was mentioned as a potential U.S. Senate candidate from New York in 2012, delivered what will probably rank as the most introspective address of the state conclave. He harkened to his Reagan days by crediting the 40th president with winning the Cold War through strenghening the economy as much as by strengthening the military.
"Obama cannot say that," he said. "This is the weakest economic recovery in post-World War II history."
Kudlow, who recently spoke in Buffalo at a Conservative Party function honoring former Buffalo Congressman Jack Kemp, frequently invoked the name of the former Buffalo Bills quarterback in his prescription for reviving the New York GOP. He questioned why Albany has failed to cut a host of state taxes that he says are contributing to upstate's economic malaise, and saved his sharpest criticism for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's failure to approve "fracking."
"There is no earthly reason...no academic study...that shows fracking is harmful," he said. "It is scandalous. This governor just won't fight Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or whoever these radical enviros are. You must campaign on this."