C.P.R. for the GOP

In his Wall Street Journal column on Christmas Eve, Dan Henninger posed a vitally important question:  “Who speaks for the GOP?”  It is not a rhetorical question.  Of late, John Boehner and to a much lesser extent Mitch McConnell have been doing so, largely due to the hassle about the “fiscal cliff.”

John Mariotti is an experienced author and former senior executive, and is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @johnentgrp

John Mariotti is an experienced author and former senior executive, and is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @johnentgrp

However, there is a larger issue at stake here — the thought leadership and direction of the Republican Party.  There is no doubt, as I have written recently, that the party needs to recast itself in an image that is keeping with representing that portion of Americans who favor fiscal responsibility and social conscience — but not extreme position.  The GOP can no longer deserve the moniker of the party of “old white men.”  If it does, it will be destined to a long-term minority influence in Washington.

Ironically, the GOP’s positions and ideology plays far better on a state level, where the facts overwhelm the rhetoric, and real work is getting done.  Thirty US governors are Republicans, and several others are moderate Democrats.  Maybe the closer they get to the people, the more perceptive the people get that media hype, soaring rhetoric and a big government “nanny state” is not the ideal America.

I believe there are three people ideally situated to speak for the GOP.  The challenge is for the three of them to bond into a set of philosophically and ideologically consistent positions.

CPR stands for Christie, Portman and Rubio.

Chris Christie, Governor of NJ, may be a bit too Northeastern, hard-edged New Jersey to satisfy the folks in the South. But his policies, his outspoken, and seemingly fearless ability to “speak the truth” — even when it might be unpopular — mark him as a valuable and perceptive part of the trio to lead the GOP.  Less likely to be presidential material, Christie must be an important and valuable voice in the GOP.

Rob Portman, Senator from OH, is a marvelously qualified statesman.  He has served as Budget Director, International Trade Rep, a multi-term Congressman and now as a Senator.  He is arguably the “senior statesman” of my CPR trio.  He is also a smart, articulate and honest family man, experienced in managing the dysfunctional ways of the Federal government.  Considered as a VP candidate and touring with the Romney campaign, Portman has earned consideration as a presidential candidate in 2016 — plus he is from the state that is always a “swing state.”  When combined with his breadth and depth of experience, this makes him the preeminent GOP spokesperson for the next few years.

Marco Rubio, Senator from FL, is the charmer of the group.  He is handsome, articulate, passionate, and a family man whose origins from Cuban parents allow him to be sensitive to the growing Hispanic population.  Rubio is about as far right of the new GOP center as Christie is to the left of it.  That balance plays well across the South and in hot beds of Tea Party supporters.  Rubio states the more conservative case about as well as anyone. His only shortcoming is a relatively thin resume and the need for more experience in the byzantine ways of Washington.

Sure, there are other very talented and capable GOP-ers who are important.  I’d love to have Susana Martinez, Governor of NM involved in the mix. Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal both add diversity and are governors with executive experience.  Then there is Paul Ryan, the VP candidate, whose acumen in the critical budgetary matters is substantial. He’s also a solid mid-Westerner, but something about a failed run as VP actually makes him a bit less attractive for a top spot in the party public face — for a while at least.

Then there is Mitch Daniels, whose competence and credentials are great, but who is not really interested, and is less than a rousing stump speaker.  He can play an important role advising the younger, newer party spokespersons.

It’s time for some of the “old dogs” to fade out of the media’s eye.  John McCain, the failed presidential candidate of 2008, is increasingly ready to become a voice on military or foreign policy matters, and little else.  Boehner is an experienced party leader in the divided and fractious House.  McConnell is less so.  His tenure as Senatorial leader has been overshadowed by the Democratic control, the mean-spirited Harry Reid, and of course, the President himself.

There are many new, bright GOP lights coming along.  Newly appointed Tim Scott in SC could be one of them.  Even Sarah Palin hangs around in the public eye, but she, like Mike Huckabee, seems to be better opining from Fox News, than weighing in on weighty matters.  Last, but certainly not least, I must mention perhaps the smartest, yet most erratic policy wonk and former party leader in Washington, Newt Gingrich.  If Newt would become the senior advisor and mentor to the CPR group, they would benefit from his wisdom and tone down his more extreme ideas.

C’mon GOP-ers. Let’s talk up the CPR group and get our party back on its feet and regain a position of importance and relevance to Americans as they watch the failed policies of Barack Obama and the Democrats go down in flames.  We can be ready to man the fire extinguishers and save America once again.

Newt, remember how this worked?



  1. I agree with your basic premise but have an issue with mentioning Christie after his verbal tirade concerning the Sandy Bill.

    1. His tirade is more that of a child who didn’t his XBox for Christmas, not a future leader in the GOP: Citing the “callous indifference” of Congress to the suffering of Sandy’s victims, Christie professed himself “disgusted” with the “selfishness” and “duplicity” of Washington’s politicians. “Shame on you, shame on Congress,” he said. The “selfishness” that HE shows is the total disregard for those not in NY or NJ who are footing the bill for those who didn’t properly ensure their assets.
    2. His ability to be oblivious to the PORK in this proposed bill is more attuned to not noticing that your credit card has a 30% interest rate; in fact 60% of the bill has NOTHING to do with the estimated 17 Billion that he originally quoted as to the damage, NOT 60 Billion. Alaskan fisheries, electric cars for the Federal Government, EXPANSION of existing railway lines have nothing to do with repairing the Sandy Damage, yet he clamors for the money like Michael Moore for an order of hot wings.
    3. Don’t get me started on the suck up job he did on Obama during the first few days of the crisis. That, combined with the LACK of action by the WHITE HOUSE and FEMA (not the GOP) makes me wonder where his loyalties lie.

    I do respect the opinions of those like Ann Coulter who are enamored with Christie, however, in my eyes, the Emperor just lost his clothes.


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