Republicans must reach out to minority, women and Catholic voters to take the White House this fall and complete their political revolution, party leaders said at a Saturday strategy session.
Evelyn McPhail, the party’s national co-chairman, told state GOP leaders to get their message into smaller, ethnic newspapers, and to tap as campaigners the Republican women who hold state offices.
Republican positions on school choice, crime and “the right kind of welfare reform” will appeal to many Catholics, who are traditionally Democratic voters but now often vote Republican, said national party chairman Haley Barbour.
“We want to be sure we are not doing what Republicans might have done 20 years ago, and miss a chance with Catholic voters,” Barbour said.
Republicans have to get one of their own into the Oval Office to fulfill the promise of the 1994 takeover of Congress, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi and House Budget Chairman John Kasich of Ohio told party leaders.
Congress will continue to approve cuts in spending and taxes, and changes in welfare, and business regulations, Cochran said. And it will work to override President Clinton’s vetoes of key GOP changes.
But, he added, this past year of standoffs is a stark reminder that although the Congress can approve changes, the president can block them.
“We need to elect a president who will sign these bills,” Cochran said.
Kasich, a frequent participant in budget negotiations with Clinton, said differences are so wide the country “has to elect a Republican president so that we can complete our job.”
State party chairmen have spent two days in San Diego discussing their strategy for the presidential race, focusing on plans to paint Clinton as a liberal indifferent to welfare changes and a balanced budget.
Cochran said he believes the election will come down to voters’ feelings about Clinton’s character.
“They’re looking for a higher level of competence and integrity and that’s where we will be able to win,” Cochran said.
Highly visible at the national party meeting here have been Michigan Gov. John Engler and California Attorney General Dan Lungren, both considered by others to be in the running for the vice presidential spot if Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas is the party’s nominee.
Lungren said he’s been assured by Barbour that Republicans this year won’t concede California to Clinton as former President Bush essentially did in 1992.