At the annual Republican Governors Association meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, top governors and potential 2016 presidential candidates say the focus for the party should be on 2014, not 2016.
Christie told those in attendance, “start thinking about 2016 at our own peril.” Gov. Chris Christie, the group’s new chairman, two weeks ago handily won reelection in Democrat-dominated New Jersey.
This year’s meeting for the Republican Governors Association saw a surprise visit from George W. Bush, the last Republican president to win the White House.
Washington incompetence and dysfunction was the theme to be sure, with the governors touting their very different, very productive and successful records. It was clear that they view their leadership at the state level the new model for a party searching for a way to return to power.
Bush sharing stories from his time as Texas governor and as president, underscored that message.
“He encouraged all of us and agrees, I believe, with us that the best breeding ground for presidents is the governors,” said Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
In his role as the new Republican Governors Association chairman, Gov. Chris Christie will be raising money for other governors, hyping party activists and smoozing financial donors for 2014.
The political environment will be a benefit for Christie. The most competitive governors’ races are in states like Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all states where any future Republican nominee would need national stature. For any embattled governor, Christie’s help could later translate into a future favor and alliance.
Democrats have telegraphed a strategy, which includes attempting to exploit such relationships and attaching Christie, who they view as their most dangerous 2016 opponent, to governors with less star power.
Adding to a message he has been pushing, Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed a message of policy substance over other considerations. The man who said the party needed to stop being the party of stupid, said Republicans need message discipline to define what they’re for,because they cannot just say what they’re against.
Gov. Bobby Jindal passed his role as chairman of the organization and stressed the party’s need to focus on policy and tone. For many who do not know, Jindal is a former congressman and Bush administration health policy expert. Drawing on that experience, Jindal said ObamaCare problems were “a design problem” rather than just poor implementation.
Furthermore, he stressed the fact that Republicans need to put out alternatives, offering ideas such as ensuring people can buy insurance policies across state lines, pooling costs and offering tax credits.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former congressman who served as chairman of the House Budget Committee, criticized those in his former position on dealing with healthcare and budget issues.
Kasich was clearly upset with the tactic involving the government shutdown, and voiced his support for a federal amendment to the Constitution that would require Congress to balance the federal budget.
Kasich also said Obama’s overhaul was “really HillaryCare,” noting the former first lady’s failed role in efforts to overhaul healthcare during the 1990s.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry joked about his gaffes during the presidential nomination in 2012, and when Kasich suggested that Republicans needed to reform the way it conducts presidential debates, Gov. Perry clapped and yelled, “Hell yeah!”
Other Republican governors note that in all seriousness, Gov. Perry’s economic record is serious. Republican governors pointed to Perry’s job record in Texas as a model to run on, and Perry argued the need to talk to “people’s hearts” on issues like immigration.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — for better or worse — wasn’t in Arizona. Instead, he was promoting his new book, “Unintimidated,” about his fight with public-sector unions and victory in a union-backed recall election.
People’s Pundit Daily reported on the stories of death threats that are outlined in his new book. People’s Pundit Daily political analysis has Walker a candidate favorite for the 2016 dark horse.
Republican donors support him and he is a candidate who could be supported by all of the party’s rival factions.