Former EPA chief says GOP too far right

/ Source: The Associated Press

Christie Whitman, the former New Jersey governor and Bush environmental official, says in an upcoming book that Republican moderates must speak up or the party could move so far to the right that it will lose its influence and strength.

Whitman, who led the Environmental Protection Agency for President Bush from 2001 until May 2003, also says in the book that she was often at odds with the White House on issues such as setting limits on air pollutants and power plant emissions and in the debate over global warming. Her tenure was marked by complaints from conservatives that she was too moderate.

The main focus of Whitman’s book “It’s My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America,” is on her desire for moderate Republicans to regain control of the party. The more conservative wing of the party has claimed much credit for Bush’s re-election.

“A clear and present danger Republicans face today is that the party will now move so far to the right that it ends up alienating centrist voters and marginalizing itself,” Whitman writes in the book, obtained Friday by The Associated Press. The book is to be released by The Penguin Press in late January.

Whitman says fellow moderates, such as former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, were instrumental in Bush’s re-election win, often campaigning with him in battleground states.

The role of moderates is to bring the party back to its center, she says.

“It is time for Republican moderates to assert forcefully and plainly that this is our party, too, that we not only have a place but a voice, and not just a voice but a vision that is true to the historic principles of our party and our nation, not one tied to an extremist agenda,” she says.

Whitman was not available to discuss her book. Her publicist, Rachel Rokicki, said Whitman would not be conducting book interviews until next month.