political notebook

Boehner says candidates, not policies, led to November losses

Senator Rand Paul addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference on Wednesday.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Senator Rand Paul addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference on Wednesday.

House Speaker John A. Boehner suggested Thursday that candidates and personalities — not Republican proposals on Medicare and spending cuts — contributed to Republican losses in November, as he vowed to press forward with a House budget plan that renews the push to shrink the government.

In short, the Ohio Republican said in an interview that November’s election losses would not deter his party from pressing its vision of reducing the size of government and turning government health care programs largely over to the private sector.

“There are a lot of things that decide an election, especially the two candidates that you have, the personalities that they have, positions they have taken,’’ he said.


‘‘There are a lot of factors that went into that election,’’ he added. ‘‘I don’t know that that’s the issue. Eighty percent of the American people think that Washington has a spending problem.’’

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This week’s release of a GOP budget that employs spending cuts and an overhaul of benefit programs to balance the budget in 10 years has led some to question why Republicans are sticking with that approach after losing the presidency as well as seats in the House and Senate last November.

The Republican budget, which will come to a vote in the full House next week, seeks to bring taxes and spending into balance within 10 years, largely by rolling back the accomplishments of the president’s first term.

It would repeal the president’s health insurance exchanges and expansion of Medicaid but retain cuts to Medicare that the Republican presidential ticket, Mitt Romney and congressman Paul D. Ryan, spent months denouncing.

It would maintain the level of taxation secured by tax increases on the wealthy in the January deal to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff.


But it also says the top tax rate should fall to 25 percent from 39.6 percent, with the cost offset by eliminating undisclosed tax deductions, credits, and loopholes.

And it assumes the repeal of Obama’s Wall Street regulatory bill. Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs for the poor would be cut significantly, part of $4.6 trillion in cuts through 2023.

“The budget is an opportunity to lay out your priorities, what your party believes in, and that’s exactly what our budget does,’’ Boehner said.

— New York Times

At conservative gathering, looking for a new GOP leader

Tired of election defeats, conservatives are saying they want a leader brash enough to protect conservative orthodoxy and open-minded enough to help the Republican Party change its image: white, old, and male.

And there’s no shortage of Republicans angling to fill the void in party leadership.


The party’s future is dominating the sideline discussion during a three-day summit of conservative leaders that began Thursday in Oxon Hill, Md.

From the dozens of luminaries on stage to the thousands of activists in hallways, Republicans at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference are looking for a way forward for a party that has lost four of the past six presidential elections.

For many, the path to 2016 begins with a lesson drawn from Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid: They want a candidate who stays true to conservative principles but also pushes a more inclusive message.

‘‘We ran the wrong candidate,’’ Bob Fischer said as the conference began at Maryland’s National Harbor, just south of Washington. ‘‘We need a Republican Party with backbone.’’

His sentiment was echoed in interviews with a dozen conservatives. Most oh whom also called for leadership that attracts a more diverse electorate — particularly Hispanic voters who helped President Obama win re-election last fall.

— Associated Press