The GOP's rebound from a tough 2012 election cycle will come from the ranks of its governors, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Sunday in an interview with Hotline On Call.
"In the next [presidential] election, Republicans would be wise, whomever it is, to nominate a governor," said Walker, who was in Washington for the National Governors Association's Winter Meeting.
The party's state executives -- 30 in all -- have found electoral success where their Senate and presidential counterparts have not, which Walker credited to relevant policymaking and relatable messaging. "By our nature, if we're doing our job, we're plugged in, we're connected to people, we're just more relevant," he said. While federal-level Republicans can look out of touch using terms like "fiscal cliff" and "sequestration," Walker said governors have an easier time demonstrating their policies' effects on individuals.
The GOP's branding problem is "not about changing your principles or positions," Walker said. "Too often as Republicans, we're so into the accountant point of view that we're balancing our budgets, that we forget ... to make the case."
It's a lesson Walker said he learned the hard way. Much like President Obama -- who said he failed to "tell a story to the American people" about the importance of his policies -- Walker said the biggest regret of his tenure so far is underestimating the importance of messaging. "I was so eager to fix things, I didn't talk about them," he said. "In retrospect, I would not have changed in the sense that I'd still move forward with fixing things, but what I'd try to do differently ... is make sure that I both talked about things and proceeded to move forward with fixing it."
The early-term clashes that followed Walker's proposals -- most notably changes to laws governing collective bargaining -- have cooled off, he said, improving his relations with Democrats. "They're not going to go up and put a shrine up to me or anything like that, but it's a better working relationship," Walker said. He said he's tried to avoid divisive proposals -- even ones he agrees with -- in order to keep focus on his larger agenda.
As for 2014, Walker said his survival of a 2012 recall election has him in good position for reelection. "I expect that 2014 will be significant; I don't think it's humanly possible for anything to be any more intense than it was [in 2012]," he said. It's "logical," Walker said, that his recall win might make it difficult for Democrats to recruit a candidate.
While he prepares for his third election in four years, Walker is offering fellow Republicans a three-step plan for electability. "Be more optimistic about our plan, be more relevant in the way that we talk about [it] and ultimately show that we've got the courage to act on it," he said.