Republican Governors Are Winning CPAC

For GOP governors, making their case against the Washington establishment is all too easy.

National Journal
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Brian Resnick
March 7, 2014, 5:19 a.m.

Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors at the Con­ser­vat­ive Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Con­fer­ence would like the next pres­id­ent to be a Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernor.

And why not? Over the past two years, Re­pub­lic­an na­tion­al lead­er­ship has been por­trayed in terms of stas­is and in­fight­ing. While Con­gress has been squab­bling, Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors (who largely be­ne­fit from like-minded le­gis­latures) have been mak­ing changes in their states. 

There’s an ob­ject­ive lo­gic to that ar­gu­ment — want Wash­ing­ton to change? We know how to change things! — which Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Chris Christie of New Jer­sey made at the con­ven­tion. (True, Bobby Jin­dal also spoke at the con­ven­tion, but he fo­cused his speech less on his home state of Louisi­ana than on ad hom­inem at­tacks on the pres­id­ent). 

As Perry put it in a speech Fri­day morn­ing: “It’s time for a little re­bel­lion on the bat­tle­field of ideas.” Trans­la­tion: The cur­rent Re­pub­lic­an guard in Wash­ing­ton isn’t cut­ting it. He, like Christie on Thursday, made ref­er­ences to oth­er Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernors such as Nikki Haley, Rick Scott, Jin­dal, and Scott Walk­er as lead­ers mak­ing ac­tion­able de­cisions in their states.

The gov­ernors also have easy speech writ­ing here. While sen­at­ors like Marco Ru­bio can make ar­gu­ments against big gov­ern­ment, Christie and Perry can prove they have made cuts at home. “The red-state, blue-state de­bate really mat­ters, be­cause it is about the fu­ture of Amer­ica,” Perry said, along with stat­ist­ics that show blue power­houses like New York are los­ing jobs to con­ser­vat­ive won­der­lands like Texas.

Christie began his speech on Thursday “with a story from New Jer­sey” about how he com­bated the pub­lic em­ploy­ee pen­sion fund. “We put to­geth­er a plan to do the things they should be do­ing here in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., on en­ti­tle­ments.” He then went on and ex­plained how he turned a hos­tile crowd of fire­fight­ers over to his re­forms.

Perry like­wise spoke of Texas’s eco­nom­ic growth and the state’s re­cent pop­u­la­tion boom. It lends cred­ib­il­ity to the end­ing cred­its of his speech, where he calls for Wash­ing­ton to “get out of the health care busi­ness, get out of the edu­ca­tion busi­ness.” His largest ap­plause came when he said the coun­try ought to keep de­liv­er­ing the mail on Sat­urdays.

“It’s not too late for Amer­ica to lead in the world, but it starts by lead­ing at home,” Perry said.

“And what you see in Wash­ing­ton is people who only want to talk. They can’t stop talk­ing,” Christie said in his Thursday speech.

Taken to­geth­er, in front of a crowd of con­ser­vat­ives who so deeply dis­like the na­tion’s dir­ec­tion, it’s not a bad time to be a Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernor.


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