Republican heavy hitter Mary Matalin came to Buffalo Tuesday to lend her support to Erie County Executive Chris Collins as he prepares for a run at a second term in November.
Matalin -- the GOP commentator, strategist and one of the best known names in national politics -- was the highlight of the county executive's fundraiser Tuesday evening in the Rich Atrium.
Matalin, who was asked to appear at the Collins fundraiser by a mutual friend, said she is impressed by the efforts of the county executive.
At a time when people want government to live within its means, Collins is setting a good example, not just for New York State, but the rest of the country, she said.
"It's not just cutting budgets. You do it the way Chris has done it," Matalin said. "You reform these programs, you combine these programs, and you stand up courageously to all the screamers."
This year, for example, is the first year in the history of the United States when mandatory entitlements exceed revenues, she said.
"There are not enough people paying taxes to sustain the entitlement programs we have in place," Matalin said. "While the feds are dithering, while Rome is burning, Erie County is getting it done, so I'm very happy to be here."
Matalin said she has high hopes for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, too.
"I don't share his political philosophy," she said, "but at least he's talking the talk for now."
The fundraiser charged $1,000 per person, or $1,500 per couple, for a VIP reception. General admission was $200 per person and $300 per couple.
Matalin has been an assistant to President George W. Bush and counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney. She is married to longtime Democratic consultant James Carville.
Matalin spoke with The Buffalo News for about 15 minutes prior to Tuesday's fundraiser.
When asked about who is likely to lead the charge for the Republicans in 2012, Matalin said it's not necessarily about the who, but the what.
"People are not saying, 'I'm voting for a Republican,' " Matalin said. "They're saying, 'I'm voting against the continued expansion of government beyond our capacity to sustain it,' and 'I'm voting for whoever is going to get it back under control.' "
Matalin also was asked about President Obama and the situation in Libya. But she didn't jump on the president for being a "ditherer."
"I have been in the White House during a wartime situation and dealing with the complicated Mideast," she said. "It's good to think these things through.
"I do think there's an increasing problem of inconsistency within the administration," Matalin added. "The president is saying, relative to Libya, that 'We want to protect the citizens.' Mrs. Clinton is saying, 'We want to get rid of Gadhafi.' "