Two possible candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination -- Paul Ryan and Bobby Jindal -- have very different diagnoses for Mitt Romney's loss last week. As for solutions, both don't offer much detail. How Republicans explain their big losses on Election Day last week offers some clues to how the party will change before the next election. Some party leaders blame Republican voters and donors for being stuck in a rightwing media world, while some conservative bloggers blame GOP consultants for running too many moderates. Jindal and Ryan see it differently. Let's look at their ideas:
Problem: Ryan says the Republican Party did not get crushed last week because their proposals were unpopular. In his first post-election interview, with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Ryan responded to a question about whether voters had rejected the Republican vision by saying of President Obama, "Well, he got turnout. The president should get credit for achieving record-breaking turnout numbers from urban areas for the most part, and that did win the election for him."
Solution: Ryan does not say. The only options, if you're going to talk in those terms, would be getting more white people to vote or having fewer "urban" people vote. But Politico's James Hohmann points out that strategy may not work: Romney and Ryan "got wiped out in the overwhelmingly white state of New Hampshire, and they underperformed in non-urban sections of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa." On taxes, Ryan said he and House Republicans had already presented a plan, and called on Obama to offer his own.
Problem: Jindal says the problem actually is the Republican plan. He tells Politico's Jonathan Martin, "We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything... We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys." And Jindal rejected Romney's 47 percent comments, and the idea of makers vs. takers, which Ryan has promoted: "The Republican Party is going to fight for every single vote... That means the 47 percent and the 53 percent, that means any other combination of numbers going up to 100 percent."
Solution: Jindal thinks the GOP must explain things better, but not necessarily with better slogans. Republicans must "stop being the stupid party," reject candidates who make "offensive, bizarre comments," and "stop reducing everything to mindless slogans, tag lines, 30-second ads that all begin to sound the same." The GOP must be more than "the anti-Obama party." Republicans "must reject identity politics." As for actual policy changes? Jindal's a little more vague. In Martin's paraphrase, Jindal wants the GOP to "soften its tone" on social issues. The governor did not answer questions about immigration reform, but did indicate support for financial regulatory reform, including the Volcker rule. He doesn't want to raise tax rates, but lower deductions for high earners and add some for low earners.