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April 30th, 2009
10:42 AM ET

How GOP plans to bounce back

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Rep. Kevin McCarthy says the Republican Party needs to grow and welcome new people."]

President Obama has continually promised to reach across the aisle to pass legislation. But the first 100 days of his presidency were spent mostly at odds with Republicans. The president delivered a bipartisan appeal at a news conference last night marking his first 100 days in office.

Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a deputy minority whip in the House, says the Republican Party needs to grow and welcome new people. He also blames President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not living up to their bipartisan promises. Rep. McCarthy joined Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.

Kiran Chetry: The president said again last night that his bipartisan efforts have been genuine. Do you think he has lived up to the bipartisan pledge over the past 100 days?

Kevin McCarthy: Unfortunately, no... We invited this president early on when he first got elected to our conference to have a bipartisan talk and work on the stimulus bill. Where Republicans actually put together a working group, gave him a list of ideas, even scored and measured it based upon his economic drivers, which has created twice as many jobs with half the money and not one idea was taken.

Chetry: Is it more the fault of the president or more the fault of the congressional leadership in the House?

McCarthy: I fault more the congressional leadership in the House because as the president was speaking to our conference, the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was introducing the stimulus bill to deny the ability for bipartisanship to even work within the House. And I think that's detrimental in the long run.

Chetry: Nancy Pelosi gave some advice to the GOP in the wake of Senator Arlen Specter's party switch.

“Yes there is a - shall we say a radical right-wing element with whom they identify. But by and large, I say to Republicans in America, take back your party.”

Chetry: What do you make of getting advice from the House speaker, the Democrat, of what you guys should do?

McCarthy: Look, I look to a lot of people to get advice, but that's not one of the first people I look to. I think this party has a lot of play places to grow. That's one reason why we're unveiling today the National Council for a New America. We’re going on a tour across America, getting out of Washington, listening to Americans to be able to solve this economic recovery, to define a 21st century patient-centered health care, to prepare our children for the 21st century as well. That's the way you're going to see this party grow, and listening, and build. Finding solutions to our problems. I think that brings this Republican Party back more than anything.

Chetry: There seems to be an internal debate. Lindsey Graham said, “We are not losing blue states and shrinking as a party because we're not conservative enough… If we pursue a party that has no place for someone who agrees with me 70% of the time, that is based on an ideological purity test rather than a coalition test, then we are going to keep losing.” Do you agree with him? And if so, how do you change that?

McCarthy: I agree that this party needs to grow. This party needs to be open and welcome new people in to it. We can maintain our philosophy and be able to grow and add people to it as much as Ronald Reagan was able to do. And what you see, remember, six years ago, this is exactly where the Democratic Party was. This president ran for Congress and lost in a primary by 30% where his own party wouldn't even elect him to Congress and now he's president of the United States. We've got an opportunity here. People may think the cup is empty. I think it's half full. This is a time that new leaders rise up, new ideas form, solutions are able to grow. I think this is a time when you’re going to look back and say this is where the party shifted and this is where the party was able to grow. The new Council for a New America is one of the first starts we listen to the American people to find solutions.

Filed under: Politics
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Efrain

    I believe if the Republicans and their narrow minded conservative ideologues do not have a more open minded approach to many of the issues facing this nation; they will continue to implode and shrink as a party. This will eventually lead to either the formation of an altetrnative party or a Democratic party made up of conservative and liberal Democrats. The problem with the Republican party and those affiliated with its ideology is that they are listening through a filter which only picks up those ideas which are in total agreement with their philosophy and there seems to be no room for compromise. They also seem to be living in the past by constantly reminding all of us on how things used to be with Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was the right person for his time, but as the saying goes the only constant is change and they need to evolve and adapt to this reality. They need to modify there message relevant to the times we are living in. This lack of accomodation, flexibility, and innovativeness is what caused them to lose their leadership. As a Marine once told me; you must adapt and improvise so that you may overcome and succeed.

    May 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  2. Enrique

    When there is no national personal presence on the national stage, then the defacto leader of any party is its Chairman,
    but when the chairman of the RNC has to beg for forgiveness from some radio talk-show host, doesn't that mean that that person is superior to the guy asking for forgiveness?
    As long as Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican Party, nothing will happen, in an off-year only the people that lisen to right wing radio will show up, the people that have already been indoctrinated to the ideals that got them defeated in the first place.
    The first real step is to get rid of Michael Steele, and put in place somebody that will not kowtow to the extremists right wing radio.
    Failing this, the moderates in the party may have to leave and form a party of themselves, moderates republicans, and let them implote into nothing.

    May 1, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  3. Steven

    The GOP to me is nothing but a party of . This POT shamelessly has no ideals let alone ideas. They are stuck in the mud with ideas that worked 30 years ago but cant work now. The country has chaanged, it has moved on, its young and diverse and this new generation wants a thinking party which the POT of course is not.
    Like Letterman said, they will probably be back in 2028.

    May 1, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  4. Justin

    The GOP needs to just disband if they can't take the party back from the evangelical nutjobs who now run it. The democrats can go to. They're all a bunch of children who have more loyalty to party than country.

    The founding fathers warned against political parties for a reason.

    May 1, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  5. Cosmik

    I think that the major problem at this point in time is that the people do not think that the Republican Party has their interests at heart, and to an extent, this assertion is true. The Republicans isolate too many people with their policies that clearly favor rich white males and corporations and ignore the rest of society. This is no longer the majority, and people can only tolerate being held down for so long. If the Republican Party wants to make an effective comeback then they need to deliver to the American people, not the interest groups that finance them.

    May 1, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  6. Jonathan

    Honestly, I think the Republican party has gone too far along the road of religious and nationalist extremism to ever appeal to the present and growing diversity that is America. Most Republicans simply don't seem to realize that the majority of Americans do not want to live in a theocratic dictatorship. Frankly, it would make more sense to let the Republican party die out and encourage another party's growth – one more in touch with the 21st Century.

    May 1, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  7. Fred Robinson

    Hi Kiran:

    The GOP has swine flu. Big time.

    Enjoy your weekend.


    May 1, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  8. Bernice

    Our president, which had my vote, will NOT have it in the next election! You better wake up here people! I believe we are all being misled here! The figures just DO NOT add up! This is going to cost our people dearly... our medical system could be demolished with NO CARE for anyone and many people would die! (as they do in the other countrys that have the same medical program) I am switching over.....independent. We are giving all of the money away that our government took as a stimulas! Now, we are going to financially take care of Pakastan, Mexico, Iraq, and we all know that this list just goes on and on. More money to Mexico? PEOPLE???? When are we going to ever start taking care of our own people right here in the USA? We can't even take care of ourselves! This stimulis was done to save us ...not everyone else in the world! I disagree with this administation completely! I also think that our prez is just a good speaker... He reads every word! I wonder who actually wrote the speaches for him?? Pelosi?? I would not doubt it. I think it is mostly her in charge of our country, and I really have deep concerns about that! I fear that there will end up being a revolution, right here in the states, by the people who want to reclaim thier counrty and thier rights Is this not why so many people are getting armed here?,

    May 1, 2009 at 7:22 am |
  9. Brett

    (my impersonation of a republican) We want to listen to you as long as your saying what we want to hear. We are willing to be bipartisan as long as you use our ideas and not your own. We don't care that you won the election and that were at a new low as a party, were right and your wrong. Oh yeah... your a SOCIALIST FASCIST!!!

    I think it is time for a third party to come and replace the Republicans. A party of true moderatism. Drop the culture war and the anti media, dop the idea that anyone with more than a high school education is an ellitist. A party with no affiliation to extremist groups from either side of the spectrum. Last but not least drop the corporate backing and be a party of the middle class. Instead of worrying about abortions, gay's and zenophobia be the party of inclusion. Most americans sit in the middle, not the left or right. They want fiscal responsibility but they want a government that makes paying taxes worth while to them. Something is only pork when it is giong to someplace other than their home town. They want a government that protects the little guy, not executives. There is a middle ground. If you could be a party that blends the best ideas of both parties now and not try to apeal to the fringes at either end of the spectrum you would win hands down every election allways.

    May 1, 2009 at 6:55 am |
  10. Scott_Michigan

    That last paragraph discussing President Obama's weak political points highlights the problem with the Republicians. Too many are trying to be Karl Rove . . . political stategists that can WIN an election. The problem with that is they have NO IDEA what to do with it once they get elected. SMALL Government does not mean NO GOVERNMENT. You actually have to DO SOMETHING once your elected.

    May 1, 2009 at 6:46 am |
  11. T.Harden

    National Council for a New America–tour America, listen to ideas, and report back to House/Senate Republicans...confused, did John McCain (who's ironcially on the same council) not do the same thing, tour America and "listen" to the public during his presidential run? Tea Party protests–mostly involving Republicans waving Confederate flags during such events, but you you want to grow and include more people–ummm, right!

    May 1, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  12. Jeff H

    The Republican Party has lost millions of Americans. As for me personally, crass comments from McCain, Shelby et al like "let the banks and auto companies go bankrupt" shows a callousness that the GOP has totally lost touch. Senator Shelby is villified in Michigan and other auto states. I have been a Republican all my life, but it sickens me to see the GOP criticize Obama on spending; yet they never hesitated a second to spend billions on a war the American people did not support. At least Obama is spending tax monies at home. The GOP better find a "Ronald Reagan" because it will be a LONG, LONG time before they find themselves back in favor with most Americans. Right now, the Republicans are a party lost.

    May 1, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  13. Tim Shinn

    I think it remains to be seen if this National Council for a New America is genuine, or another PR stunt. Until we see some substance I'll assume it's the former. The party I grew up in is in a difficult place, they cannot appeal to moderates with the radical right having so much influence, and they can't have a party without them. They would have to purge themselves of Rush and his crazies to bring me back.

    T. Shinn

    May 1, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  14. hayden zeke

    I feel sorry for him. He's talking about change when the country just voted for it. He's talking about listening to the problems of America when the problems are already known, as if Republicans don't know what they are.

    The Republican'ts are just going to have to wait it out and see if the Democrats stumble.

    May 1, 2009 at 6:15 am |
  15. Ken

    The first thing the Republican party needs to do is end their reality TV show. The sniping between Palin, Levi Johnston, all the radio show personalities, McCain's daughter, and it goes on, is ridilculous. Of course no one will vote for a party with that type of mentaility.

    May 1, 2009 at 5:59 am |
  16. Trollmaster

    The GOP made far too many enemies with the American people.

    When I questioned the Bush administration and the Iraq invasion, I was called unpatriotic by far too many of them, and their right wing talking head GOP mouthpieces. If they have that much contempt for me and those like me over such a horrible reason, then that contempt will be returned. The GOP in it's current form is useless and not a friend of the average American. Such vile rotten and nasty people belong nowhere in any leadership role. America would be greatly improved if we cleansed our nation of this scum. America needs to practice genocide via democracy (not violence) and vote the Republican party completely out of existence. They truly deserve this kind of punishment such horrible leadership and horrible manners upon their fellow countrymen that express their 1st Amendment and question such a proven awful Bush administration.

    May 1, 2009 at 5:52 am |
  17. Harold - Texas

    Unfortunately the label of the "party of no" is going to stick for some time. I am really concerned about health care in this country. Our forefathers fought and died to make us free, yet many of us cannot fully participate in the very country they left us. Many of us must forego health care lest we risk losing everything we have struggled for in medical bills. I'm afraid that the Republicans' "21st century patient-centered health care" will just be a lot of the same - an increasingly expensive and less availabe health care system.

    May 1, 2009 at 5:49 am |
  18. Mark

    Do you think perhaps he could start by not repeating himself through the whole interview – he is stil doing what politicians do – sticking to the talking points rather than just talking – and yes they all do that on both both sides. Im still waiting to see a real dialog.

    May 1, 2009 at 5:10 am |
  19. Thomas Edwards

    I'm allowed, as a Democrat, to disagree with the Party on issues such as abortion and gun rights, for at least there's a belief that no single perspective is 100% correct, and that consensus requires give and take on both sides. For some reason current-day Republicans don't understand this – I'm in 100% agreement with narrowly defined positions, or I'm out. So I left. Curiously, the "100% in-agreement or out" is how they also define bipartisanship. And I predict the "New America" Council will encounter the same problems as it travels the US. To the extent this Council allows narrow, right-side elements to dictate regional and national positions, there's no room for this former moderate Republican (a "flaming liberal" by today's Republican ideology) to be a Republican, let alone even want to be defined as one.

    May 1, 2009 at 4:58 am |
  20. Julie

    I wouldn't consider voting for a republican until they get out of the pockets of the religious nut cases.

    May 1, 2009 at 1:27 am |