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Axelrod: GOP Has Some Soul-Searching to Do

Well, now we know where all those “Republicans are losing the demographics” stories are originating. Here’s David Axelrod speaking on a conference call with the press (via Playbook): 

“I think the Republican Party has some soul searching to do after this election, and all you have to do is look at the nature of our coalition, and the President got 56 percent of the vote among voters who describe themselves as moderates, and they were the largest segment of the electorate. The President got 70 percent of the vote among Latinos. He got 55 percent of the vote among women. And that reflects both his record and also the approach of the Republican Party, which has been to paint itself way out of the mainstream. …

“If I were one of those billionaires who were funding Crossroads and those other organizations, I’d be wanting to talk to someone and asking where my refund [is], because they didn’t get much for their money. … [I]n the final week, over $100 million was spent against us in these battleground states. How much influence did that actually have? … [T]he heartening news is that you can’t buy the White House. … I would think that there’ll be reluctance in the future when Mr. Rove and others come knocking on the door because of what happened on Tuesday.”

Right, Mitt Romney, the moderate Massachusetts governor who instituted the state-level model for Obamacare and almost lost the nomination because he was seen as too liberal has “painted the GOP out of the mainstream.” Just like the pro-amnesty John McCain was accused of “marginalizing” the GOP into the regional white southern party in 2008.

There is no crisis for the Republican Party, at least not the type Axelrod talks about. Most of the swing states have Republican governors: Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania. The coalition Axelrod boasts about was cobbled together through a mix of mudslinging, fearmongering, cynical election-year handouts, and a powerful get-out-the-vote operation that dragged every last Democrat to the polls. Other than the last part, that’s nothing to be proud of.

Charles Krauthammer pushed back on the demographic doomsayer nonsense this morning:

Ignore the trimmers. There’s no need for radical change. The other party thinks it owns the demographic future — counter that in one stroke by fixing the Latino problem. Do not, however, abandon the party’s philosophical anchor. In a world where European social democracy is imploding before our eyes, the party of smaller, more modernized government owns the ideological future. …

The answer to Romney’s failure is not retreat, not aping the Democrats’ patchwork pandering. It is to make the case for restrained, rationalized and reformed government in stark contradistinction to Obama’s increasingly unsustainable big-spending, big-government paternalism.

Republicans: No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention when none is needed. Do conservatism but do it better. There’s a whole generation of leaders ready to do just that.

Krauthammer calls Romney a transitional figure, which is a great point. The party that was left rudderless after John McCain’s defeat in 2008 has come to embrace an optimistic and reformist vision for conservatism. The younger bench of Republicans who embody that vision will be ready to run in 2016. Romney, as a technocratic political moderate, was not the right spokesperson for such an ideological message. But by choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney ensured that Ryan’s brand of reform conservatism would be the party’s future. What is the Democratic Party’s message, other than Barack Obama?


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