The Liberal Party brought out its big guns in Throsby on Friday, with John Howard visiting the electorate to support candidate Larissa Mallinson.
Speaking outside Ms Mallinson’s Albion Park campaign office, the former prime minister said he knew his party had an uphill battle to win the safe Labor seat but said it had potential to ‘‘be a bolter’’ in the upcoming election.
‘‘We don’t have any delusions of grandeur, but it can happen,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s a volatility about the voting patterns in this area and it’s a very diverse electorate.
‘‘This part of it has a tradition of voting solidly for the Labor Party and other parts have had a tradition of voting very solidly for the Liberal Party.’’
During his visit to the region, Mr Howard also stepped into Labor member Stephen Jones’s heartland at Dapto Leagues Club, where he received a ‘‘mostly warm welcome’’, except for a couple of vocal detractors.
Mr Howard said Ms Mallinson was the ideal candidate to lead his party’s campaign in Throsby.
‘‘She’s local, she’s young, she’s energetic, she’s intelligent and she’s passionate and that’s a lethal compination in politics,’’ he said.
Mr Howard would not comment on Ms Mallinson’s ‘‘sex appeal’’, as Tony Abbott did with Lindsay candidate Fiona Scott earlier in the week.
‘‘I think the hoo-ha from some people about what Tony Abbott said is ridiculous,’’ he said.
‘‘Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with paying a compliment to a woman.’’