Jansing and Co | February 05, 2013
>>> in just a couple of hours, house majority leader eric cantor will become the latest republican to try to reshape the gop message. in an address before the american enterprise institute , cantor will argue ways that conservatives can hold on to their message, but use a more pragmatic approach to get it out.
>> i think that where we have a lot of room to grow, as a party, as conservatives, is to explain again why we're for the kind fiscal discipline that we're for. what is the reality and how are we going to help people?
>> let's bring in jonathan collegeio, communications director for american crossroads super pac, and democratic strategist and purple strategies co-founder, steve mcmahon . good morning, gentleman.
>> good morning.
>> by my count, this is the fourth time eric cantor has tried to kind of rebrand the republican party , sort of switch gears on messaging. he is expected to tout new education initiatives, ways to simplify the tax code, kush health care costs, immigration reform . ron fournier with the " national journal ," jonathan , asked this question -- "with a democratic tide threatening to crush the dpop, is it enough to just tweak talking points ?" what do you say to that question?
>> i think there's a tendency among policy maker , politicians who are in the legislative chamber all day, to be using this policy. they talk about the fiscal cliff, about entitlement reform, about debalancing the budget. but it's devoid of any value to the average voter. so fournier may have a point there, but i think it's critical for republicans to be talking about the values behind these policies, that we're always promoting. fiscal responsibility , why are we doing that? because that's a path to prosperity. i think that's a critical thing that eric cantor is doing today and i applaud him for doing it.
>> that is what he does seem to be wanting to talk about, connecting the dots. and steve, he isn't just talking about -- you know, he isn't talking at all about moderating. he's talking about this change of tone. and i wonder if the message, reducing the debt and deficit, fixing the education system for the most vulnerable is the way he puts it. the way he talks about immigration, are those things that will resonate?
>> i think jonathan 's right. what the republican party used to stand for, when george h.w. bush was president, is something that the republican party doesn't seem to stand for for most americans anymore. what they seem to stand for today is being, you know, insensitive on immigration. and not being mindful of a woman's -- you know, women's rights and there are symbols that the republican party promotes, like, they say they're for education, but they want to abolish the department of education . and i think that makes it difficult for them to cut through. if eric cantor can do it, then it needs to be done. but i'm just -- i think that there are candidates out there every single cycle that get in the way of the republicans try to rebrand and they are back in this same position every two years.
>> eric cantor is not alone, for sure, jonathan , your old boss, or i guess your boss, karl rove , as how often talked about trying to fix the image and he's angered a lot of republicans , especially far right conservatives by talking about his plans to go against the most extreme in the primary. mark levin , the talk show host , says conservatives are being stabbed in the back. erick erickson , the editor of redstate.com says the efforts will, quote, crush conservatives, destroy the tea party , and put a bunch of squishes in republican leadership positions. what's your response to that?
>> i tend to think that's kind of alarmism. we haven't really proposed any policy changes or anything like that, at least from the crossroads group . whenever you come about this type of thing, you have to look at it in terms of policy. you have to look at it in terms of style and the rhetoric you're using. and then for a lot of communities, if you're trying to go after the african-american vote, the hispanic vote, or the asian vote, you have to be willing to show up and you have to be willing to do that consistently. there are three legs to that stool and you have to be doing them all. we're not advocating any differences on policy, but it is, i believe, important that we need to be changing our rhetoric a little bit, and be promoting values. when we talk about balancing the budget or the fiscal cliff, the average person in peoria, illinois, isn't connecting on the same level. we need to be talking about what value is that for them? and the value for that is, if we get the nation's fiscal house in order, that means that business will thrive and there'll be more prosperity. those are the types of things we need to talk about.
>> steve, is there an opportunity for democrats in the middle of all of this, when you see some of the more moderating republicans really taking aim at tea partyers, taking aim at the far right, and recognizing some of the problems they've caused by nominating some of these candidates that are not able to win in general election .
>> well, there's always an opportunity for democrats, when the republicans are attacking their base. and when it takes moderate republicans to pass even common sense reforms. so, for instance, the reason we didn't go over the fiscal cliff had nothing to do with the tea party members, who wanted to go over. it had to do with responsible, moderate republicans , who understand that taking the country into recession wasn't a good idea. and i think as you watch this civil war play out. and i think the crossroads folks who are out there saying, web need to nominate republicans who can actually win a general election are right, but they're doing so at the expense of their base, which is going to create huge problems for them. the base isn't going to shut up and go away. they'll continue to run in and win primaries. and they're going to continue to produce nominees that can't win, like richard mourdock and the witch in delaware and others who the republican party should be afraid of.
>> steve mcmahon , jonathan collegeio, thanks to both of you.
>> thank you.