“Meet the Press” was unusually interesting yesterday. Now that the election’s over, there’s a new whiff of almost-candor in the air. Most of the show was about the double-story of the fall of Gen. David Petraeus and the investigation of what happened in Benghazi.
In the round-table at the end of the show, veteran Republican operative Mike Murphy and Congressman Raul Labrador (Repub of Idaho) reflected some of the post-drubbing thinking coursing through the Republican Party. It starts with host David Gregory asking about Mitt Romney’s pitiful post-election excuse that Obama won because he bought off women, young voters and Latinos with “gifts.” I”ll put the transcript of the exchange below, which segues into Labrador’s argument that “big business loves big government.” Here’s the exchange:
DAVID GREGORY: We’re back. Mike Murphy, the fallout from Mitt Romney’s discussion that basically Obama gave gifts to minority groups, that’s how he got re-elected. This is the time when the party is trying to figure out where it’s going.
MIKE MURPHY: Well, unfortunate comment. I think we ought to have a rule that if you lose a presidential election, you know, you get a pass for a week because it’s like a bender you’re coming off.
GREGORY: Yeah. And don’t talk to donors.
MURPHY: I– I– well, you know, look there’s a huge donor revolt going on. I mean, we have now lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. This is an existential crisis for the Republican Party, and we have to have a brutal discussion about it. We alienate young voters because of gay marriage. We have a policy problem. We alienate Latinos–the fastest growing voter group in the country because of our fetish on so-called amnesty when we should be for a path to immigration. And we have lost our connection to middle-class economics.
We also have an operative class and unfortunately a lot of which is incompetent. We don’t know how to win. So, this isn’t about new software in the basement of the RNC. It’s not about a few Spanish language radio ads. It’s a fundamental rethink that begins with policy because the country is changing and if we don’t modernize conservatism, we can go extinct. The numbers are the numbers.
GREGORY: And Congressman I have talked to other Republicans who say that the problem with Romney is that he doesn’t get it. I mean, it didn’t take long for them to turn on the former nominee and say unfortunately this point of view is something that he had in the course of the campaign.
REP. LABRADOR: Let– let’s start out by saying that Romney was a good man. Anybody who knows Romney understands that he is a good man, that he would have been a good president. But he didn’t know how to communicate the message of conservatism.
And I agree with Mike a little bit but we need to be careful that we don’t completely shift the party. We don’t need two liberal parties in Washington, DC. We need one conservative party and one liberal party. I think the problem that Romney had throughout the campaign is that he couldn’t talk about conservatism like conservatives talk. I– as I heard somebody say, he talked about conservatism as if it was a second language to him.
We need to– there are things about the conservative movement that actually– we– we believe in small government, but we also believe in the individual. There are too many Republicans here in Washington, DC, and they are actually defending big business. They are defending the rich. I didn’t become a Republican to defend the rich. And what we need to understand is that big business loves big government, because they get all the goodies from big government. They get more– they get less competition. The more that government grows, the more that big business actually benefits from the tax code and from the regulations.
The full hour show, by either video or transcript, is available here.