What should I tell the House Republicans?

I will be speaking at their retreat on Saturday. Your suggestions are welcome.


  1. GreatHairGuy says

    One overarching approach; show a unified front. The Dems have been very good at this; however, Obama is really putting them to the test in this area. Let them melt down in public. Let them put House members at odds with Senators. Let them be seen as needing their leadership to whip the other members into shape.

    One annoying trait of too many Republicans is they tend to ‘eat their own’. They must swallow their own egos at times and display unity; enough of the ‘maverick’ stuff. It’s a team effort. Keep the squabbles and the vigorous debates in private. Display unity and a common cause when in public. It builds confidence and with that, a certain inevitability.

  2. Nathan Hansen says

    Simply this: The Democrats fumbling on the economy and national security has opened up a once in a generation chance to set so many things right – lay the ground work now so that if/when they take back power in Congress they will be able to do what really matters:

    (1) Significantly scale back the footprint of government whether it is through regulation or bureaucracy.
    (2) Balance the budget.

    The GOP plan should be boiled down to: We don’t need a 2000+ page document to articulate our policy – our policy is freedom: the freedom of Americans making their own decisions free of government experts and ‘help’.

    • GreatHairGuy says

      By definition, can any LAW that requires more than, say 200 pages, be considered a good law?

  3. John Rhoades says

     Republicans aren’t competing very well in that arena
    o Keep it pithy: “Money for defense, not defense lawyers” or “The President’s party has a contract ON America; we have a Contract FROM America.” and “We favor Free Enterprise, not necessarily Big Business” and “Health Care isn’t about your health; it isn’t even about your wallet. It’s about your liberty.”
    o Agree on it;
    o Publicize it;
    o Repeat it;
     Really think about who should be the face of the Party. (Hint: ABS (Anybody but Steele))
    o What made Scott Brown so personally appealing?
    • Tireless
    • Positive
    • Focused
    • Unpretentious
    o What is making Marco Rubio so appealing?
    o Who can help targeting demographic groups not normally associated with Republicans, i.e., young, minorities, et al.?
    o Who is willing and able to both leverage technology and counterattack quickly, humorously, and in a compelling way? (Andrew Breitbart? Nick Gillespie? Penn Gillette of Penn and Teller?) NOTE: Before poo-pooing humor, tell me if John Stewart has any impact on the national debate…
     Admitting past error is not a bad thing, especially when contrasted to an Administration that is apparently incapable of doing so in the midst of painfully obvious incompetence. The contrast would be both striking and refreshing, especially to independents.
    o By the way, define “independent” and understand their core motivations;
    o As important: understand what demotivates them.
     Make “Progressive” a dirty word (again). See: Goldberg, Jonah.
     Ask why the GOP still isn’t crushing the opposition, given the latter’s repeated failures over the years
    o What made Americans the maddest at you and address it, clearly and honestly;
    o Debunk the stereotypes (in bed w/corporate fat cats, religious fanatics, racists, bigots, homophobes, ad nauseum);
    o Figure out how to deal reasonably with the hottest hot-button issues, e.g., abortion, gay marriage, etc.
     Democrats are masters of the hit-and-run sound bite on national news programs and TV talk shows. Discrediting them takes a near-encyclopedic reservoir of facts, intense situational awareness under the stresses of time and the physical environment of these venues…and training/practice! Hard, but not impossible. Krauthammer would make Matthews look like a fool. We need more Krauthammers, Kristols, Bret Stephenses, et al.
    o The Dems, in concert with the MSM are good at initiating effective anti-GOP demagogic memes.
    o GOPers need to pick up on this meme development early and strangle it in its crib. This takes sensitive antennae, a wide detection array on everything from social networking sites to DNC talking point papers, and an agile counter-messaging capability. Talk to DoD Info Warriors, PJTV, Reason.com, Andrew Breitbart, et al.
     Ask yourselves how many people under 40 understand Ronald Reagan’s impact on history, especially his effect on a moribund US economy. (The Cold War victory may be a bridge too far as it is not as relevant or today’s Jihadis as immediate a threat to these folks…alas.) How many voters that age know what the word “stagflation” means, what politician embodied it (Carter) and how similar the situation is today?

     Gradualism
    o Pick two, maybe three issues
    o Propose one or two achievable goals in each
    • Near-term is good
    • Long-term is OK but right now Americans need something that works…NOW.
    o Have a focused, disciplined sales plan…remember the agility required to counter the Dem demagoguery.
    • David Horowitz makes a good point when he says that wherever liberals have been in charge, things have steadily deteriorated over several decades, citing Dem control of school districts, State governments, health programs, etc., etc.
    • Memorize Amity Shlaes’ book on the Depression (and Henry Morgenthau’s 1938 critique of FDR program effectiveness by that time: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong … somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. … And an enormous debt to boot.”
     Marshall Resources:
    o Intellectual
    o Financial
    o Technological
    o Develop nationwide skill banks where anyone can contact a “bank” of people who can: design a web site, train GOP activists to give an interview, speak in public, write a column, etc.
    o Develop DIY (Do It Yourself) Packages for individual citizens who have energy, passion and time but no experience:
    • Organizing a meeting
    • Starting a Blog
    • Running a local campaign support team
    • How to make phone calls
    • How to run for local office
    • Etc.

    General Thoughts
     Boy, do I miss grown-ups in politics! Compare the petulance of Obama with the positiveness, maturity and stoicism of Reagan.
     Success breeds success…Brown’s success gives a HUGE morale boost to conservatives and independents. I think it will have a direct effect on Marco Rubio’s building momentum.
     Why I give money:
    o I agree with your message;
    o I vehemently disagree with your opponent’s message;
    o You look like you’ve got a shot at winning. Would I have given to Scott Brown’s campaign in June? No. I did…twice…in January.
     Note to GOP Heavies: let the people decide who the best candidate is. Committing to endorsing one candidate or another too early, or one who is obviously not a believer in core GOP principles breeds cynicism and depresses enthusiasm.

  4. David LaMar says

    Tell them to look at California and see what is happening. I am a business owner in Silicon Valley. My business is a mixture of old school with some high tech sprinkled in. We have done what we can to adapt, and change with the needs of the market place, but we can’t over come a government that thinks no matter what, we will grow, pay more taxes and fees, and keep feeding their unquenchable need to fund more government programs.

    A few months back I visited the Reagan Presidential Library. I lingered long and thoughtfully at the exhibits that documented his run for governor of California, all I can say is we need a person like him in office that believes in the goodness of men and women, and believes in the free market. I would also like to add that government without a moral compass will leave us in tatters once again, as will those in the corporate boardrooms. We must demand more out of our institutions in a free market economy — and if greed is the redeeming call from those in office and in corporate governance we are doomed.

  5. Witty Username says

    More candidates with experience of life; not these production line college Republican types who’ve never worked a real job in their lives, never made payroll, and don’t know anything outside of the world of politics.

    Politics should be a vocation, I think the public are growing tired of career types.

  6. Cliff Bradley says

    The Main thing that I’d like you to tell them is that the election of Scott Brown is not anti-Democratic but rather anti-incumbent. If they want to get large net gains in 2010 and 2012, they will have to swear off earmarks and bigger government among other things.

    I’m reading your book “If it’s not close they can’t cheat” and was chuckling about what you said about Arlen Specter being important to the Republican party. I agree that it is important to ensure that we get and keep a majority. However, Republicans have contributed to the mess we are in because they keep doing the same corrupting things that the Democrats do. They keep increasing the size of government, they keep caving in to politically correct nonsense and they keep “bringing home the bacon.” Why should I pay for a senior center in Lindsay Graham’s state? A Republican should not put in earmarks based on principle.

    Here are my priorities:
    1. Term Limits – Ted Kennedy may have already been corrupt when he got to the senate, but decades of “service” corrupted him completely. This means a Term Limit Amendment. This means that people are not “career” politicians.
    2. Start getting government workers off the payroll. They are dangerously close to becoming a voting block that cannot be stopped based on numbers alone.
    3. Balance the Federal Budget except in times when Congress Declares War by a Balanced Budget Amendment.
    4. Consider a radical new way of doing Health Care. Local Poor Houses and Public Clinics. That will ensure 100% coverage of people in health care. If you get free healthcare, you cannot sue, you might have to wait, you won’t get to see “your” doctor, but you’ll get treated. Health clinics should be staffed and paid for locally and Doctors should be given tax credits to work at them. Move the management of them to the lowest local level, not the federal level. Allow private citizens to purchase “catastrophic” insurance from wherever they can get it. Allow insurance companies to use actuarial tables to determine your premium. Don’t allow insurance companies to drop you for anything except not paying your premium. Don’t allow insurance companies to raise your premium more than anyone else once you are in the program.
    5. Start acting completely politically incorrect regardless of the consequences to stomp this unproductive, dangerous behavior into oblivion where it belongs.
    6. Finally, we need a constitutional amendment for the line item veto. That will ensure that earmarks are eliminated.

  7. shannon mcgraw says

    I think they need to simply, and without rankor, but directly.. push back on the overarching idea that government can create jobs/wealth. People keep saying BO needs to focus on jobs. No…because his idea of ‘focus’ is to spend more money trying to create those jobs. I think Republicans need to hammer over and over again, that the freedom people want comes with getting Big Government OUT OF THE WAY. DON’T FIGHT IN THEIR COURT. Don’t just disagree with smaller points. They need to make clear, every single chance they get, to get people to understand the high cost of college, medicine…everything…is when government gets in the way. And this doesn’t just take away one’s income, but one’s freedom. I guess I’m saying…be specific, but also relate it back to the bigger issues of free market and freedom. We need to stand up and work to annilate the Big Lies of anti-Capitalism and Free Market. It’s like our party now needs to beome a PR firm and resuscitate what’s truly good about America.

  8. Craig Tannahill says

    Key points for Hugh’s message to the House Republicans:
    *Problem Solvers,
    *Communicate using all available means including social media, talk radio and web content
    *Talk to voters not at us
    *Cut spending like my family has in the past year
    *A strong country can only come from strong families
    National Security:
    * Spend millions on preventing terrorism not trying terrorists
    * Don’t read terrorists their rights interogate them
    * Radical Islam declared war on the West long ago because of who we are not because of support for Israel, Gitmo, etc. Jefferson snet the Marines to Tripoli to fight Muslim pirates
    * Celebrate success don’t punish it
    * Stop trashing businesses and industry
    *Make the Bush tax cuts permanent
    *Kill the death tax permanently
    *Kill the AMT – a 40 year old soak the rich idea from the Democrats
    *Allow everyone to deduct their medical insurance premiums
    *Then leave the tax code along until replaced.
    *Replace the entire IRS code with something clear, concise and easy to understand – less than 100 pages (I would have used the < symbol but Hugh is a lawyer – need to keep it simple)
    Be good stewards of:
    *Our Heritage
    *Our Treasury
    *Our History
    Emphasize principles not politics
    Respect the President but question his policies and priorities
    Support limited government – perform enumerated functions well leave the rest to the people and the states.
    We betrayed your trust before and have now learned our lesson.
    Kill the AMT

  9. shannon mcgraw says

    A Big P.S.
    Go after them on national security. Stand up to the bogus claim of waterboarding.


  10. Mark McNeil says

    Fix the Ponzi schemes: Social Security, Medicare and government pensions. The only politically viable way is to phase in a dramatic increased age to collect. Change all government pensions to 401k matching type plans.

    Energy Independence. 500 nuclear power plants immediately plus add natural gas as a viable option.

  11. James Dirr says


    I have a million thoughts, but the sleeper issue that we need to face is immigration. I have a few simple thoughts that need to guide the Party.

    1. We need to recognize that immigration has always, despite fears, been good for the republic and our society, even immigration in the post New Deal welfare state.

    2. We need to acknowledge that our current immigration law is, like most federal statutes, hopeless mess and needs to be reformed.

    3. We need to recognize three things that any immigration reform must have (a) real and comprehensive border control, (b) modified amnesty for illegal aliens who are not criminals (see below) and (c) revised and streamline visa standards that facilitate immigration, especially of talented people, regardless of the country of origin.

    4. Modified Amnesty – Those illegal aliens who have been in this country prior to a fixed date (my recommendation, December 31, 2008) and who have not been charged or convicted of a criminal action, felony or misdemeanor should, subject to satisfaction of conditions below, be eligible for a non-resident alien status, but may never been eligible for citizenship.

    Rationale: There must be a consequence for failure to comply with our laws. This may seem harsh, but this is still a country of laws (however badly conceived and executed) and their conduct is in violation of such laws. There is also the recognition that most of this group of the illegal aliens (regardless of country of origin) have been an economic plus to this country and likely a societal plus as well.

    Recommended conditions:

    1. Delivery of a detail statement under oath listing:

    a. The conditions of the presence in this country.
    b. All places of resident during presence in country
    c. Listing all names utilized
    d. Listing any benefits obtained from any level of government

    Rationale: Needed for verification

    2. Demonstrated proficiency in English

    3. Declaration of all income earned and payment of 100% of back taxes to all levels of government (I would allow for a one-time waiver of interest, penalties etc.)

    4. Acknowledgement and waiver of any claim or right to become a citizen of USA.

    Rationale: There must be a consequence for failure to comply with our laws. This may seem harsh, but this is still a country of laws (however badly conceived and executed) and their conduct is in violation of such laws

    5. If you have been in this country after to a fixed date (my recommendation, December 31, 2008), you must leave and return under the new regime.

    6. There needs to be real and genuine investigatory and enforcement mechanism to address the illegal aliens in this country prior to a fixed date (my recommendation, December 31, 2008) and related appropriations. There may need to be a fixed time limited function executive branch agency to handle this class of illegal aliens. The enabling act must have a sunset date that is realistic and reasonable and cannot be extended but by a supermajority (assuming that is constitutionally permitable.

    7. There should be no focus on modifying birth right citizen; instead there should be an affirmation of such citizenship.

    8. To the extent constitutionally permitted, we should deny any illegal immigrant (not otherwise in compliance with the new law) any non-life critical benefits, including without limitation, welfare, food stamps, higher education (I am not sure how to address under 18 years and their education).

    9. Recognition that real and comprehensive border control is principally for Homeland Security. There must be full and expeditious funding of such control (BHO could use to claim jobs “saved or created” – how’s that for bi-partisanship)

    10. Proscription of (a) amnesty cities (denial of federal monies) and (b) NGO amnesty programs. Mandate states turn over all illegals, not in compliance with new regime, with exception, to federal law enforce. Preemption of state laws re: illegal aliens. Since immigration is an expressed delegated power under Art. I, Sec. 8, there should be little objection or impediment to these provisions.

    11. All illegal alien criminals in US prison should be deported immediately to country of origin – this could be a huge savings for state and federal government.

    12. For all illegal aliens in this country after to a fixed date (my recommendation, December 31, 2008), streamlined enforcement to provide the minimal constitutionally required process and quick deportation. NO MORE CATCH AND RELEASE.

    Just some thoughts


    • James Dirr says


      that is:

      10. Proscription of (a) amnesty cities (denial of federal monies) and (b) NGO amnesty programs. Mandate states turn over all illegals, not in compliance with new regime, with[OUT] exception, to federal law enforce. Preemption of state laws re: illegal aliens. Since immigration is an expressed delegated power under Art. I, Sec. 8, there should be little objection or impediment to these provisions.

    • Sean Owens says

      A very comprehensive and persuasive proposal. I would, however, like to add one thing: a substantial increase in LEGAL immigration consistent with our tradition and history. Nationalized Americans make great citizens and are truly and asset to our country, but they must immigrate legally.

  12. Thomas Thurman says

    Dont assume everyone gets it….

    Dont assume the tea parties are yours……

    Dont assume you are doing that well, its that they are doing that bad…..

    Carl Rove and Frank Luntz can save your messaging and logistical backside CALL THEM TODAY…..

    Im grateful for your service .. Thank you

  13. Doug Sander says

    As a 32 year federal employee I would suggest to the Republicans that the most manageable way to cut the deficit is to freeze the federal budget this year and then implement a planned series of across-the-board cuts on the order of 1-2% for a couple years (to whatever level is chosen) and then freeze again until growth and inflation bring the deficit under control. The bureaucracy needs stability (pick a plan and stick to it) and gradual change to the budget in order to minimize the breakage and waste. No one is smart enough to cherry pick enough cuts to make a difference, it needs to be implemented through thousands of small decisions in each department and agency in coordination with the Congressional sub-committees and OMB.