On MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Sunday, the host “begged for forgiveness” for already beginning speculation on the 2016 GOP race for president as her roundtable of guests speculated on which Republicans would take a shot at the open seat.
Harris-Perry threw out a range of possibilities, from second-timers like Rick Santorum, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) to Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, N.M. Gov. Susana Martinez, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, and Sen. Rand Paul — to name a few.
“I do think it’s important that we not sort of come out of a win, as I’ve seen both parties do, in either midterm elections or general elections, with this narrative: oh, the other party is over, right? This is it, this is the decisive election, because I don’t think we see anything like that,” Harris-Perry said. “When you look at the the new herd, what seems to you like the things that are different?”
“It is a little more diverse,” argued Tara Wall, conservative writer and former Romney campaign advisor. “Both ethnically and as well as sex wise.”
“After any election, everybody does a kind of recalibrating and lessons learned,” she went on. “I think what you don’t want to lose sight of is the fact that, you know, there are a number of governors in there and in fact, GOP governors have done exceptionally well this past election. I mean, 30 of 50 governors are Republican governors.”
While Obama won, Wall argued, the message of “fiscal conservatism” is still “ever present” with governor’s overseeing state budgets.
Harris-Perry then moves on to the question about conservative leadership, saying that after the 2008 election, “the conservative voices that emerged were the Limbaughs and the Glenn Becks, rather than elected leaders. And so what I’m wondering is, is there a way in which elected Republicans might help to move conservativism towards an actual conservativism, as opposed to this sort of social angst that we saw last time?”
Matt Welch, editor-in-chief of the Libertarian-leaning Reason magazine, rejected her premise, arguing that the most intriguing post-2008 development was “the rise of a populist, anti-government spending wing of the country.” He went on to say that newer Republican voices like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio don’t quite have the same viewpoints and don’t talk like Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum.
Harris-Perry said that GOP governors were “well positioned” for 2016 but that Republicans often pick the candidate whose “turn” it is, like John McCain and Mitt Romney.
“Is there anybody whose turn it is this time?” she asked.
Raul Reyes of NBCLatino.com noted that although there is growing diversity among GOP governors, many — including Martinez of New Mexico and Sandoval of Nevada — were elected without a majority of Latino support, creating a potential problem if the party presents them as the solution to the fact that a majority of Latino voters swung Obama.
Rubio’s policies “are definitely outside of the Latino mainstream,” he said. “So that’s a danger for them in terms of just, putting like an ethnic face out there.”
Dorian Warren of Columbia University speculated that “the fissures of the Republican party [will] come to the fore,” as the country nears 2016. “I think we’re going to see the underlying civil war actually break out, arguing that “there are at least two wings of the Republican party that don’t agree with each other on a range of issues from climate change to immigration, a range of issues.”
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