The future of the Republican Party took some shots at its recent past on Thursday, as two top potential 2016 White House hopefuls made a conspicuous effort to distance themselves from the past two GOP presidential nominees.
Speaking to activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Sens. Rand Paul (Ky) and Marco Rubio (Fla) offered sharp, and only slightly veiled, critiques of Mitt Romney and John McCain, the two most recent men to carry the party standard in presidential elections.
“The GOP of old has grown stale and moss-covered,” Paul said. “I don’t think we need to name any names here, do we?”
Although Paul didn’t mention McCain by name, the reference was clear after McCain last week labeled Paul and other members of the new generation of conservative Republicans “wacko birds.”
Speaking to the same crowd earlier, Rubio sought to cast himself as the anti-Romney, attacking some of Romney’s most controversial statements from the campaign, in which the former Massachusetts governor, in a surreptitiously recorded video, dismissed his chances with 47 percent of American voters because they were overly dependent on government and considered themselves victims.
“Our people have not changed,” Rubio said. “The vast majority of the American people are hard-working taxpayers who take responsibility for their families, go to work every day, they pay their mortgage on time, they volunteer in their community. This is where the vast majority of the American people are. What’s changed is the world around us.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who was a presidential candidate in 2012, joined in the attack. He said that Romney’s presidential loss says nothing about conservatism because Romney isn’t a conservative.
“The popular media narrative is that this country has shifted away from conservative ideals, as evidenced by the last two presidential elections. That’s what they say,” Perry said. “That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012.”
Interesting. The question now becomes whether or not an America that voted for Barack Obama for president is ready to turn around and vote for someone more conservative than John McCain and Mitt Romney? Where is the disconnect?
Meanwhile, it appears that everyone is busy throwing each other under the bus, each blaming the older Republicans for being out-dated and out of touch. Meanwhile, Ken Cuccinelli who is running for Governor of Virginia is singing a moderate song as he moves around the state. Hopefully no one is fooled by that song. If they are, they have been asleep for the past 4 years. Cuccinelli is an uber-conservative.
Some Republicans are trying to open the door a little further for some groups-blacks, Latinos, gays–those people who failed to vote Republican in the last national election. This attempt at inclusiveness seems to be very isolated. Regardless of what is said, however, the fact remains that some very visible local Republicans think nothing of making an issue out of ethnicity and sexual orientation. Case in point, BVBL.net’s lead thread mimics and ridicules and labels a woman who dares to challenge incumbent Del. Bob Marshall for the 13th District. Frankly, her sexual orientation is of no concern of mine. What does concern me, however, is that a local member of the Republican party feels it acceptable to blast someone running for office over their orientation. Would an issue be made if the candidate were Black? Latino? Muslim? I seem to remember a jockey who looked like the president and a dog food joke. I guess the answer to my question is yes.
Republicans are going to want to distance themselves from those within their party who continue to mock women, gays, and people of other ethnicities and religions. As long as it is open season on “Otherness,” those groups who Republicans desperately need to win elections will simply not have anything to do with the party–at least not in the numbers needed.
What surprises will CPAC have in store for us today? These people will set the tone. My guess is people simply will not be able to resist further alienating gays, people of color, and minority religions. The circus is in town and all eyes are on center ring.