Editorial: Some (much needed) help for the state GOP
The 2012 election wasn’t too great for Republicans in New Hampshire: They lost control of the state House and the Executive Council. They lost the governor’s race and both seats in Congress. Their presidential candidate came up short here, as he did across the country.
As it turns out, help is on the way. And while partisan politics is typically the last thing
residents want to focus on in a steamy
non-election-year summer, this is actually good news.
The news of a high-profile Washington, D.C., fundraiser for the New Hampshire GOP broke this week. Among the “special guests” scheduled to appear on July 29: Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, two Republicans seriously considering a run for the White House in 2016. Others include Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and South Dakota Sen. John Thune – and all are apparently happy to make friends with the New Hampshire GOP, even this far from an election. (New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte will be there too.) Sponsorships cost $2,500; a ticket to attend is $500.
Next month, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another potential presidential candidate, will lend a hand – as keynote speaker at a state party fundraiser in Dublin. And in a separate August event in Wolfeboro, 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, too, will raise some dough for the state party.
Romney told the Wall Street Journal recently that he plans to re-emerge in ways that would “help shape national priorities.” Whether he’s the right man for the job is an open question, but using 2013 and beyond to rethink the Republican message is important indeed. And as potential presidents make their early-early visits to New Hampshire, they should use their time to think hard and listen to voters about such issues as:
∎ Gun laws. Did either the Sandy Hook massacre or the Trayvon Martin shooting give the GOP pause about the current state of the nation’s gun laws? Is Attorney General Eric Holder wrong in his opposition to Stand Your Ground laws? Are there practical steps the government can take to reduce such deadly incidents?
∎ Immigration. The party’s position on immigration reform hampered its ability to lure Hispanic voters (and win the election) in 2012 – and yet reform efforts are bogged down in the Republican-controlled House. Do any of these would-be leaders have a serious solution in mind?
∎ Income inequality. Even as the economy is growing, the gap between rich and poor continues to rise. This is at least part of the reason Republican proposals to cut taxes on those at the top of the income scale haven’t gone over well in recent years. To reach a broader swath of the electorate, Republican politicians will sooner or later need policies that convince those at the bottom that the GOP actually cares about them – and about shrinking this gap.
∎ Culture wars. On a host of social issues – from gay rights to reproductive health – the Republicans have sounded dramatically out of step with mainstream opinion in recent years. For some voters, such issues are key. Are any of these new candidates willing to change course?
∎ Security versus civil liberties. As former New Hampshire senator Gordon Humphrey noted this week, much of the attention on NSA leaker Edward Snowden has focused on whether he betrayed his government – and very little on whether the government, in its broad domestic snooping, has betrayed its citizens. Are the Republicans satisfied with President Obama’s explanations? Would they pull the plug on such spying?
It is way too early to predict the key campaign issues for the 2016 race, let alone the 2014 midterm election. But if Republican politicians are already turning their attention to New Hampshire, perhaps an actual, serious conversation on some or all of these issues can begin.