Republican candidates vying for the White House need to switch focus from attacking Barack Obama to reconnecting with blue-collar workers and rebuilding the American dream, said former GOP candidate Mike Huckabee and political observers.
Huckabee, the winner of the 2008 Iowa Republican Caucus, said the Republican Party is wrong if it believes political attacks are going to help them win the 2012 general election.
“I watched this whole cycle unfold, sadly the focus seems to be about who can tear each other up as Republicans or how can we tear up Barack Obama, not whether we can build up the country,” he told The Christian Post.
The former Arkansas governor said the GOP’s focus on backbiting and Obama slandering is frustrating voters who want real solutions in 2012.
Huckabee turned down a 2012 bid despite early momentum in the national polls. He explained that he takes issue with some of the actions of his fellow Republicans. He also believes the party is losing touch with American workers. “Sometimes Republicans have not understood working-class Americans very well,” he said.
Huckabee said that message has put him on “the receiving end of some serious campaign advertising negatively towards me.”
However, Henry Olsen, vice president of national research for American Enterprise Institute, shared a similar message in a November op-ed published in The Weekly Standard.
Olsen wrote that the Republican Party continually pushes for things Independent, working-class voters do not want.
“The GOP base voter believes the deficit is as large a problem as the economy; the white working-class Independent does not. The GOP base voter believes cutting entitlements is necessary to cut the deficit and that taxes on the rich should not be raised; the white working-class Independent disagrees. The GOP base voter wants to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan; the white working-class Independent wants to come home. The GOP base voter scorns Occupy Wall Street; the white working-class Independent thinks the Occupiers have something of a point,” he described.
He summed, “On issue after issue, the opinions of the GOP’s conservative base are out of step with those of white working-class Independents. Rather than grasp this fact, however, many Republican political leaders have listened solely to the base and ignored the other partner in the marriage.”
Olson pointed to Republicans’ loss in New York’s 26th Congressional District as a warning of things to come if the GOP doesn’t begin to pay attention to working-class Americans and Independents.
Republicans argued that a phony Tea Party candidate cost Republicans the Dist. 26 special election race, not public disapproval. Rather they have pointed to the GOP win in New York’s 9th Congressional District as a sign that Americans are angry with the president and want to shake things up.
Yet a recent poll shows President Obama’s approval rating crept upward from a dismal 43 percent to 49 percent just this month.
Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal editorial board warned that either the president is making a rebound or Republicans are losing momentum. She suggested the latter, faulting the party’s limited message appeal.
“While Obama-bashing may again fire up the conservative base, it delivers nothing to those crucial Independent and middle-of-the-road voters who are anxious, confused and looking for someone to convince them they have a better plan,” she wrote.
Republicans can best draw Independent and undecided voters, she explained, by drawing attention to examples of government waste such as the $535 million investment in the now bankrupt solar energy firm Solyndra and continued joblessness. They must also present voters with ideas she encouraged.
Many of the candidates have released personalized plans to turn America around. Huckabee complained that discussion of such plans have clouded, however, by personal attacks.
“For me, running for office is never about trying to destroy an opponent, be it Democratic or Republican. That’s what I find so very frustrating is that the Republicans cannibalize each other,” he said.
Huckabee encouraged voters to change candidates’ priorities by seeking out the candidate they believe has the best plan to revive America, not the candidate who can best bash the president.
“They ought to asking themselves who on that stage can help build America back,” he said.