Meet the Press   |  November 03, 2013

Tension in the GOP: State vs. national lawmakers

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talks about internal tension within the Republican Party and how the GOP will move forward in an attempt to coalesce.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> i want to ask you about the future of the republican party . my knowledge of where republicans are seem to reflect the split, the retention of the party . on the one hand you have republican governors. there's 30 of them actually governing out in the states. at a national level, however, you have a republican party that seems more fixed on opposition, opposition to the obama agenda as they would, of course, defend to be the right place to stand in that policy. but that tension has real consequences in terms of whether the party can become a national party again at the national level. can they get the white house back. how do you view that tension. you already said you think the strategy on the government shutdown was wrong. how does that tension resolve itself? what's your prescription?

>> i think what you're going to see is without a president to, if you will, discipline our own party , you're going to have a lot of different voices taking the party or wanting to take the party in different directions. we're going to listen to that as a group of voters, and ultimately the people are going to be able to make their decision. i think you'll find that we will be very anxious to choose someone as our nominee in 2016 who we think has the best prospects of actually winning and getting the country back on track to create jobs again and to give the american people the prosperity and the hope they've been looking for.

>> but isn't this the issue? look, the reason there is a tea party right now goes back to president bush . i actually think it goes back to the beginning of a more robust security state. after 9/11, the government expands to deal with security, there's also medical part d , there's government spending and the bailouts, which conservatives start to rebell against and president obama continues that. and the answer has been john mccain in 2008 and mitt romney in 2012 , and there is a lot of the conservatives who say, hey, guys, that's the wrong approach. we've got to have more conservative nominees if we're really going to get healed in this party , they are not the answers. yet you seem to be doubling down on the idea that electability is the key, but the ranking party says, no, we've got to get back to our conservative roots.

>> electability and conservatism conservatism, i think, goes together. you have a party which is conservative. in my campaign, i think i made it very clear how i was going to get america working again, how i would get a balanced budget and start reducing our debt. i had a very conservative platform, and that kind of conservative platform, i think, is the foundation of any kind of successful campaign in 2016 . i just happen to think you want to combine conservatism with the ability to get elected. you want someone who can garner the support of people across the country to say this is a person i trust who will implement the kind of conservative approach that i think america is looking for.

>> how formidable is hillary clinton if she is the nominee? can a republican nominee beat her?

>> she's a very well-known figure. obviously if she becomes a nominee, we'll be taking a very close look at her record to see what she's accomplished and where america has gone. i would think people would have to think the last four years or five years have not been a great time for american interests around the world. she'll have a record to be examined. hopefully we'll have a nominee who can do that effectively and demonstrate his or her own record and have a strong track record to say, you know what? i would rather have that person because that person can get america working again.