Republicans see hope for '16 in governors, lawmakers

  • Article by: KAREN TUMULTY
  • Washington Post
  • January 25, 2013 - 9:51 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The official slogan for the Republican National Committee's three-day winter meeting here was "Renew Grow Win." But it did little to resolve the bigger issue for the battered party, which could have been summed in one word: How?

If there was an undercurrent of hope at the gathering, which was the first of the party's central committee since the election, it was in the fact that there is a rising generation of GOP leaders, some of whom are getting buzz as possible candidates in 2016.

Somewhere from this diverse group, Republicans say, could emerge a Moses-like figure -- maybe several of them -- to lead the party out of its wilderness.

"I just have a lot of confidence in our message-deliverers now," said Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady. "I love these guys."

"Both the message and the messenger are critical," added Saul Anuzis, a GOP leader from Michigan. "Right now, we are all a party waiting for the next messenger."

That is a relatively unusual position for the Republicans. When it comes to picking a presidential nominee, theirs is a party that generally works like a European monarchy, giving its nod to the next in the line of succession.

Many at the meeting pointed to the 30 Republican governors as having the potential both to set the party on a new course and produce from their ranks a successful 2016 presidential candidate. One of them, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, gave a keynote address where he warned: "We must stop being the stupid party. It's time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults."

Jindal is one of several GOP governors who are being sized up as presidential prospects. Others, with very different kinds of style, include blunt-talking Chris Christie of New Jersey and Virginia's polished Robert McDonnell.

Party leaders also are excited by the prospects of some of their stars in Congress, including charismatic Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose performance as the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee got strong reviews in GOP circles.

That the Republican establishment should be looking so eagerly for fresh faces is not the norm.

Going pretty far back, the party has almost always picked a nominee who had run before (Ronald Reagan in 1980, Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008, Mitt Romney in 2012), who had been vice president (Richard M. Nixon in 1960 and 1968, George H.W. Bush in 1988) or who came with a pedigree (George W. Bush in 2000).

There is no obvious figure standing next in line for 2016.

"The idea of the next-guy-in-line concept is sort of a dying idea in our party," said Reince Priebus, who was easily re-elected RNC chairman on Friday. "It's a boring idea, and we don't want to be a boring party."

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