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Harris-Perry panel debates tensions between national and local GOP

By Samantha Kimmey
Sunday, February 10, 2013 17:32 EDT
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On MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Sunday, she and her panel discussed the future of the GOP — and the divisions between the national and local faces of the party.

Harris-Perry said that Cantor’s recent speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute — in which he spoke of all Americans having a “fair shot to earn success and achieve their dreams” — was supposed to be the “kinder, gentler” GOP that cares about low-income Americans.

“But this week also showed us that the rebrand may have not reached many local GOP bosses,” she argued, as Gov. Tom Corbett recently made Pennsylvania the 11th state to reject Medicaid expansion.

According to Harris-Perry’s math, that leaves 4.7 million low-income Americans — who would have met the broadened requirements — without Medicaid in those states.

While states that reject creating state insurance exchanges — which will allow Americans to easily compare individual insurance rates — will simply be leaving the task to the federal government, states that reject Medicaid expansion will leave those low-income Americans without the opportunity to enroll in Medicaid, according to Richard Kim, executive editor of TheNation.com.

“These are states with very unhealthy populations, states with very high levels of poverty, and both of those things keeping those states’ budgets, economies from expanding, which is part of what keeps the budgets down, right,” Harris-Perry said. “So with a healthier citizenry, with people not losing time for work, with people having an opportunity to go into work and having coverage at higher levels, those are things that expand your overall economy and therefore expand your capacity to have people paying into taxes.”

But the big difference between Eric Cantor’s speech and Corbett’s decision, many on the panel agreed, displayed the differences between national and local Republican leaders.

“What I see is I see a public face, [U.S. Sen.] Marco Rubio on the cover of Time, we see [New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie, and then you see the private face,” said Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, communications director of Latino Decisions. “And the private face is at the local level. It’s your county party officials, it’s people getting together at coffee shops in Decatur, in Tyler, Texas, and the problem is these are the people that are really going to be driving the politics.”

Del Percio said that her “biggest concern” is that “those [local] people tend to have a litmus test for who counts as a Republican. And that is one of the biggest dangers the Republican Party has right now. And it is important for it to be dealt with, and I do think it is going to be on the local level.”

De Soto said that if Karl Rove wants his anti-tea party strategy to work, he needs to “pull an Obama strategy with those folks at the local level.”

Watch the video, via MSNBC, below.

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