LAS VEGAS — The nation’s Republican governors, frustrated by the mangled message and lack of coordination displayed in the 2012 campaign, will take a much more active role in shaping the party’s message going forward, new Republican Governors Association chief Bobby Jindal said in an interview Thursday.
The Louisiana governor made the remarks after Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney ignited a fresh round of infighting with comments to party donors this week suggesting that President Obama won the race by offering “gifts” to favored constituencies to secure their votes.
Mr. Jindal spoke to The Washington Times after a long day of unprecedented candid self-criticism by Republican governors of the party’s self-inflicted wounds in the campaign, including statements by Mr. Romney and Senate candidates such as Rep. W. Todd Akin in Missouri and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in Indiana that helped torpedo what many Republicans think were winnable races.
Mr. Jindal said the nation’s 30 Republican governors would join forces to fashion a party message that is inclusive, not exclusive, and appeals to independents and Democrats as well as Republicans, to people getting government assistance and those helping to give that assistance through their tax dollars. Without sacrificing the party’s principles, Mr. Jindal and other governors said, the party needs to find a new way to talk about issues such as immigration, abortion and birth control, and the social safety net.
The governors assembled here, including leading party figures such as the outgoing RGA chairman, Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, expressed deep displeasure after reports leaked out of Mr. Romney’s telling donors that President Obama had triumphed on Election Day because he promised “gifts” to black, Hispanic and young voters.
“Absolutely wrong. I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party,” Mr. Jindal said in the interview. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election.”
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said the party’s tone-deaf candidates and misguided strategists should submit to a searching, even painful, self-examination.
The GOP needs a “brutally honest assessment of everything we did,” he said, prescribing a political “proctology exam.”
Mr. Akin and Mr. Mourdock never recovered in their Senate races after ill-advised comments about rape and abortion that exacerbated the party’s problems reaching female voters. Mr. Jindal, Mr. Barbour and others agreed that casual use of the word “rape” ought to be a disqualifier for any Republican continuing his candidacy.
“I think it falls to the governors,” Mr. Jindal said. “The governors were successful at governing their states. The leaders of this party come out of the ranks of the governors.”
“That’s not our view as a Republican Party,” he said. “When we see things said by Republicans we disagree with, that’s not who we are, not what our party stands for, not what we want voters to take away.”
“There is going to be a period of introspection,” he said.View Entire Story
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Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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