Rep. Kevin McCarthy didn't pull any punches at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce's Update Forum on Friday, where he made the case for reducing the federal deficit and weighed in on the various GOP presidential candidates.
When an audience member asked which Republican in the field of presidential contenders he supported, McCarthy at first quipped that he supported anyone who could beat President Barack Obama.
The Bakersfield Republican then added, "I will tell you who I think it's going to come down to, and that's Perry and Romney."
McCarthy offered that Republicans will have to focus attention on the issues to win the White House in 2012.
"We're not going to beat Obama on personality," he said. "We can't out-Hollywood him. We're going to win on policy."
But McCarthy added that he would like to see two of the leading GOP candidates take some advice on running better campaigns.
McCarthy said he wonders who told wealthy former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney now was a good time to nearly quadruple the size of his family's beach house in La Jolla.
Romney would benefit from being more in touch with everyday people, McCarthy said.
"He needs to stop staying in hotels and start staying with volunteers at every campaign stop," the House majority whip said. "His job should be to take out the trash every day, and if that bag breaks, he needs to clean it up."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, McCarthy said, ought to pay a little more attention to avoiding political gaffes.
"What plays in Texas doesn't always play well nationally," he said.
But McCarthy spent most of the breakfast presentation at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel attacking Obama, whom he accused of putting political considerations ahead of the nation's best interest.
The president isn't serious about cutting debt or saving entitlement programs from insolvency, but that must be done for the long-term health of the nation, McCarthy said.
Again and again, the congressman asked business leaders whether they'd still be in business if they ran their companies the way the president runs the United States -- borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent.
"We cannot sustain that model," he said.
McCarthy also said he was dubious about Obama's naming a "jobs czar" to attack the nation's stubborn unemployment.
"Any time they're called czars, I don't think they need to be in place," he said.
The effort will fail, McCarthy said, if the czar doesn't change the structure of government, implementing tax reform and removing excessive regulation that stifles job growth.
McCarthy's address was received warmly by his pro-business audience.
"It was a great presentation," said business administrator Bryan Burrow. "He really gets what small business is looking for."
Aaron Markovits, director of Kern Assistive Technology Center, asked McCarthy about the nation's energy policy. The congressman responded that he'd like to see an "all of the above" approach, growing the domestic oil and gas industry alongside encouraging clean, renewable fuel sources.
Markovits said afterward that he'd like to hear more specifics, but that was a good strategy and the general principles were on target.
"We've got to get the country working again and creating jobs," he said.