All-Star Panel: Where do Republicans go from here?

All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," November 7, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH SENIOR ADVISER: If we are going to win in the future, Republicans need to do better among Latinos and they need to do better among women, particularly single women. We better be making the case to younger voters that the party they ought to associate themselves with is the party of choice and markets and liberty.

LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The white vote fell further from 74 to 72 percent. Minorities now 28 percent. I suspect this was the last all white Republican ticket.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well we're back with the panel. Soul-searching in the Republican Party. Bill, do you agree with Larry Sabato there?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I have no idea about that. I don't think you should pick people based on the color of their skin. And I don't think you should really try to have this – compete with the Democrats in picking individual constituencies. I think Republicans need to think about why they haven't been able to persuade more Americans of the case for their policies. I think their arguments have often been too abstract and I especially hate the idea that younger people are somehow going to be automatically Democrats. That is just terrible. The Democrats are the party that are defending an ossified liberal welfare state, programs that were put in place 60, 30 years ago that are driving the country bankrupt. Republicans should be the party of young people, not Democrats.

BAIER: Mara?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, you know what -- then they better start relating to young people in a way that young people will respond to. People form habits. Why do you think there was this whole generation of Reagan-voting baby-boomers? Or middle-aged people? And now young voters have voted for the president two elections in a row. Those are habit forming.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yeah, but they're now unemployed. So I think it breaks that habit --

LIASSON: Well, the unemployed people voted for Obama. You saw those exit polls.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yeah but you've got -- half the young people are 25, who can't have a job equal to what their educational level is. I think it's a good way to break a habit. I think Bill is right, you don't go after them the way that the president did. He did successfully but with a pander to every constituency.

What you do is make the case for free markets, less regulation, etc. and you show young people how that's done. I think this panicked idea that somehow the Republicans are now a party of white people alone, can never regain the majority, I think is wrong. They had a candidate who was a good man, but he was not the most fluent in making the case, which won the Republicans a smashing success in 2010 -- smaller government opposition to ObamaCare, etc. And they have a young generation – a bench very strong – the Paul Ryans, the Marco Rubios, Bobby Jindal, the list is long of young people who can and will lead. And who are intrinsically, philosophically conservative, who can make that case. There's one exception here, which I think is Hispanics. And that is not an intrinsic ethnic, affinity problem it's a policy problem. The Republicans are -- Romney ran to the right of Rick Perry in the primaries on that issue. He never recovered. I think Republicans can change their position. Be a lot more open to actual amnesty with enforcement, amnesty, everything short of citizenship, and to make a bold change in their policy. Enforcement and then immediately after, a guarantee of amnesty, that would change everything. If he had a Rubio arguing that, it would completely up-end all the ethnic alignments.

BAIER: Not only that, A.B., despite the ideological shift, perhaps, in the primary, the Obama campaign outspent the Romney campaign double on Spanish language ads on radio and TV to specifically target that group despite the fact that he was vulnerable, on the fact that he didn't pass any immigration law specifically for that community.

A.B. STODDARD, THEHILL.COM: Well, I think that the Latino electorate was frustrated with the Obama -- record level of deportations, broken promise on passing comprehensive immigration reform. He even cynically told the Des Moines Register two weeks ago that he would pass it in 2013. He never told Latinos that, it wasn't in his pamphlet he was passing around as his second term agenda.  They have every right to be extremely frustrated with him, but there's other events taking place like SB-1070 in Arizona, which has galvanized that electorate nationally in terms of grassroots energy and fundraising because it's now cropping up in other states and this will become a national energizing issue for them.

Charles is right. I speak to Republican members all the time, though. And they are between such a rock and a hard place. If they make just passing comment about guest visas their office gets taken over the next day by protesters. People they think are xenophobic and nutso, but they can't budge an inch on this issue and it's a real problem for the party. Many of these people in the House are in safe districts but they are afraid of getting primaried by the purists. And so it's a very, very, very big mountain to climb.

KRAUTHAMMER: That is why you need national leadership. And that could change it. Reagan changed a lot of attitudes. So could a new young leader.


BAIER: Marco Rubio?


KRAUTHAMMER: -- get ahead of the Democrats on this issue, it could reverse everything.

STODDARD: Bret, I think the business community needs to step in both on the fiscal cliff and immigration and shame both parties in terms of withholding contributions into taking actions on these issues. I don't think it's one leader necessarily. I think the people that are holding the bag on hiring really need to tell both parties it's time to get going.

BAIER: Bill, what about this battle inside the party between need to be more moderate and go out of, go for more independents or be more conservative and really stick to principle? I mean it seems like that's already starting. By the way, the president is just arriving from Chicago there at the White House as we talk over that.

KRISTOL: There are going to be a huge number of battles within the party in the next days, weeks and months, on foreign policy, on social issues, the moderates reach out to independents, on being a principle conservative message. And there will be some truth in most of those sides, I suppose.

I don't know. I do think – if you look at the history of the last few years, typically when you have a losing presidential campaign as we just had on the Republican side, the next – against an incumbent president -- the next candidate is often a younger candidate. Think of the contrast between John Kerry in '04 and Obama in '08, or Mondale and Dukakis in the '80s and then Clinton in the early '90s, a younger candidate who's got a fresh message that changes the character of the party. At the end of the day, they can do some stuff in Congress but the key is getting the governors and senators who have been elected and then a good presidential candidate in 2016.

LIASSON: Just like conservatives swallowed their reservations and learned to love Mitt Romney, they will swallow their reservations and line up behind someone like a Rubio or a Jeb Bush with positive message on immigration and a different approach to Hispanics. I believe that.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think that is right. Because when you don't have the presidency, leadership comes on its own spontaneously without a parliamentary system in which you have an official leader of the opposition. And I think that is exactly how it will change and that's exactly how it will develop. It will be a Rubio or a Bush, or it could be a Ryan, anybody else.  But you get leadership on this issue and the party will follow because it can then see success and the presidency at the other end of that path.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see just another reason why it's good this election is over.

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