Filed Under:

GOP Governors Say Party Lost On Strategy, Not Issues

Play associated audio

Republican governors got together in Las Vegas last week to take stock of the election results, which continue to sink in.

Going into Election Day, Republican confidence was high that the Grand Old Party would sweep President Obama aside, retake the U.S. Senate and reshape the country in the aftermath.

So on Nov. 6, when the results came in, many if not most Republicans were shocked by the president's victory. Pat McCrory, the newly elected governor of North Carolina, however, saw it coming.

"I knew it would be close. The Obama machine, the ground machine, is absolutely incredible," McCrory says. "I saw it in [2008], when I ran for governor and lost. ... I was blindsided by it. This time I wasn't blindsided by it, but I still think they have a much better ground machine than the Republican national party."

McCrory's take on the ground game is both true, and for Republican governors, politically convenient. The consensus in Las Vegas was that Obama won, not because Americans agreed with his positions on raising taxes on the rich or health care, but because Republicans got out-organized by the community organizer. Therefore, the president has no election mandate, because the reason he won had nothing to do with issues.

The other consensus was that Republican Mitt Romney wasn't a great presidential candidate.

"I really think this is not as much about Republican or Democrat, but about people are looking for leaders and they don't care what party they come from," he says. "I think what happened with Gov. Romney is he let himself be defined before he defined himself."

This analysis also lets Republican Party ideology off the hook. It was widely agreed that nothing needed to be changed except perhaps the tone. For example, the idea that more than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for the president because of Republican positions on illegal immigration was rejected by the Republican governors.

The accepted wisdom is that Republican candidates need to campaign harder, and let Hispanics know they really care about their vote. Then that vote will start coming the GOP's way.

"When I meet with many different immigration groups that come to our country, they're hard-working, strong morals, strong ethics, [and] strong family," McCrory says, "but we need to connect with them."

The governors do acknowledge that elections have consequences, but how should the party proceed? Nothing unites Republicans like Obamacare, and not a single one of the 30 Republican governors would agree to implement a state-run exchange.

The group sent the president a letter asking for more time and more information, but the governors also made it clear that most of them would do all they could to slow down or thwart the bill's implementation in their states.

On the question of the coming so-called "fiscal cliff," they continued to emphasize the necessity of not raising taxes on the wealthy.

Rep. Mike Pence is the newly elected governor of Indiana, but before he takes office he will be involved in the fiscal cliff negotiations in Washington. He says he'd try to keep an open mind, but told the assembled governors he brings a strong bias that "no country ever taxed its way back into prosperity."

"I think most Americans know that," he said. "I think the last thing we ought to do is embrace any policy that would result in a significant tax increase, particularly upon those in the best position to put hurting Americans back to work."

It may well be that the next Republican candidate for president will emerge from this large and strong group of conservative governors. The post-election rallying cry in Las Vegas was "no moderation" of the party's platform, and that a fresh face is all that's really needed.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

A Glimpse Of Listeners' #NPRpoetry — From The Punny To The Profound

It was a simple idea: Would you, our listeners, tweet us poems for National Poetry Month? Your response contained multitudes — haiku, lyrics, even one 8-year-old's ode to her dad's bald spot.
WAMU 88.5

Eating Insects: The Argument For Adding Bugs To Our Diet

Some say eating insects could save the planet, as we face the potential for global food and protein shortages. It's a common practice in many parts of the world, but what would it take to make bugs more appetizing to the masses here in the U.S.? Does it even make sense to try? A look at the arguments for and against the practice known as entomophagy, and the cultural and environmental issues involved.

WAMU 88.5

A Federal Official Shakes Up Metro's Board

After another smoke incident and ongoing single tracking delays for fixes, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced a shake-up of Metro's board.

NPR

'The Guardian' Launches New Series Examining Online Abuse

A video was released this week where female sports journalists were read abusive online comments to their face. It's an issue that reaches far beyond that group, and The Guardian is taking it on in a series called "The Web We Want." NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with series editor Becky Gardiner and writer Nesrine Malik, who receives a lot of online abuse.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.