Meet the Press   |  March 09, 2014

Battle for the GOP: Where Will Party Go?

A Meet the Press roundtable examines the rebuilding and rebranding of the Republican Party and what the results of last week's Conservative Political Action Conference say about the future of the GOP.

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

>> gop to get it right. and that's why the establishment can't blow it.

>> that, of course, sarah palin the keynote speaker last night at the cpac , conservative political action conference here in washington. now to discuss all the week's politics, i'm back with and creeia mitchell, ron fourn year, ralph reed and congresswoman karen bass .

>> i should say this first. we want to talk about the future of the republican party and the gathering of cpac in washington is a about big deal for a lot of us who cover politics because we're trying to gauge to what extent the party is rebuilding and what the personalities say, what the messages an say about where the party is going. so here's the results from the straw poll as you look at ted cruz . rand paul on top again, 31%, ted cruz second. ralph reed , what does this tell us about where the party is?

>> it tells you they want somebody who is going to be an unpol jet tick defender of undiluted conservative. what concerns them about for lack of a better term the establishment, i'm not a big fan of that term, but certainly the elected official wing of the party , the consulting class is that they sometimes unintentionally sometimes intentionally view the core principles of the party limited government , stronger families, a forward-leaning foreign policy and national defense posture, lower taxes, economic growth as somehow a liability rather than an asset. sometimes they treat it like an albatross. you know, sometimes david when you see some of these leaders on programs like this, and they get asked about why the republican party stands for the dignity of every individual including the unborn, why they believe in the sanctity of life , it's like they get a hunted look in their eyes. so i think some of this is stylistic, but if the party is going to win, you're going to need to have two wings to fly. you can't just do it with one or the other.

>> i noticed raf taking notes during your interview there. i think he laid out, the cardinal laid out the recipe for the republican party . the catholic church , the pope is trying to show how you can change a dying institution and revitalize it with empathy and hup milt and you can expand a religious tent, a political tent without undermining your core base. this is something you and i have talked about. can the republican party expand itself without turning off the base.

>> if you look at the list of candidates in the straw poll , i don't think that's expanding the base at all. if you look who attended cpac , there's a lot of work that needs to be done.

>> exactly.

>> there's still such a fight over what it means to be a conservative. so you mentioned the establishment. these tea party folks are saying look, the establishment is still too -- is clinging to compromise and the size and scope of government in a way that turns us off.

>> i think rand paul among all of those who were present has expanded his base. he has a younger generational base, as well partly enhearted from his father but he is broadening his message. chris critz was invited. he is invited now as the head of the republican governors but he's not a player in that part of the party . i do think there's one person to pick up on ron fournier's analogy with what cardinal dolan was saying about a pope who is sticking to core principles but presenting a different more humble and moisture broader and more inclusive image. that could be jeb bush . ralph and i were just talking about jeb bush has that different approach on immigration and education.

>> rand paul just to follow up on andrea's point, cpac came out at the same time the pew research center did a good report on millenniaals, this rising generation. they don't fit meets toly into either party . they don't like either party . tend to be libertarian. they have a problem with president obama on the nsa stuff. they want a government more tech savvy and opinion not impinging so much on civil liberties .

>> they're also more pro-life than older americans you see this cpac . you're going to see it as the field begins to shake out through 2014 and 2015 . a lot of this is about connecting with voters and constituencies that haven't always felt welcome in our ranks. the late jack kemp used to say people don't wear what you know till they know that you care. the republican party 's got to do what francis is doing with the catholic church . francis is putting the poor and care for the poor and emiliation of the poverty where it belongs which is at the center of the gospel if people who are lower middle class who are struggling, who are poor, wanting to climb that ladder of opportunity but they're having a hard time grabbing thatr( they don't think had you conservatives and republicans have a vision for the future that includes them, their message will be badly damaged.

>> but i do think if we look at republican policies if we look at the budgets over the last couple of years, there really isn't anything there that says we're going to reach out to the middle class . i mean, in fact.

>> that's not true.

>> we didn't even extend unemployment insurance . if you look at the diversity at cpac , there are 163 speakers. 35 were women.

>> they don't want government to be leading the way. this is about the size and reach of government. that's what the debate is about.

>> right, it is. but you have to look at the room that they had which was talking about diversity. in that many roo, it was virtually empty. there were hundreds of seats.

>> can i point out one thing? in fact, the most successful anti-poverty program since the great society is the thousand dollar child tax credit . that was part of the contract with america. we will advocated it when i was at the christian coalition . in 2011 , the last year for which we have data available, there were 9 million people lifted out of the poverty. that's a fully refundable tax credit . that was our policy, bill clinton vetoed it three times it was vetoed three times and when mike lee just announced his tax reform package, i guess yesterday or the day before, what did he propose? taking that child tax credit to $2500, making it fully refundable. what you do, david, you get rid of the bureaucracy. you get rid of all this panoply of government programs which are inefficient and give the funds directly to the people.

>> i want to ask questions about politics. chris critz, is he done? or do you think the big money is looking at him and saying he's got time to come back.

>> it's early to say that anybody's done. the golden brand of someone who is a nonpartisan or at least could work across party lines who was uncorruptible, who was politics unusual, that is very, very damaged. it is hard to see his road to the presidency is much tougher than it was. it was never easy because his brand didn't fit neatly into the republican primary . ironically he might have done himself some good with the>wr @&h(lc& republican primary audience because he now can beat up on the media. it's hard to see, harder to see him become president than it was six months ago.