By Sarah Robinson Paladino/Special to the Daily Journal
TUPELO – Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer has a warning for his fellow Republicans he believes is critical to the party’s future success.
“The Republican party needs to become more inclusive” in order to win presidential elections, he said. “America is still a center-right country.”
Fleischer delivered that message Tuesday at the 2013 Northeast Mississippi Economic Forecast. He devoted a large portion of his presentation to national politics and an analysis of voting trends from the 2012 presidential election.
Fleischer, press secretary to President George W. Bush for the first three years of his presidency, a New York Times bestselling author and a CNN contributor, laid out three reasons for Obama’s re-election: Just enough economic improvements, the Obama campaign’s strength in turning out its base vote and Mitt Romney’s image as being “out of touch” with the American populace.
He said the GOP needs to do more to appeal to Latino voters and acknowledged the Democratic Party’s strong numbers among young, single, black, and Latino voters.
He predicted that “Republicans will never again win the White House without 40 percent of the Latino vote,” which Bush carried at 44 percent in 2004. Romney captured 27 percent in November.
He said Republicans in Congress seem to have gotten that message, which could result in comprehensive immigration legislation.
Fleischer also responded to recent talk among some Republicans about changing from winner-take-all to a proportional allocation of electoral votes in some states to benefit the Republican presidential nominee.
He is opposed to the movement saying, “Fair is fair. You can’t change the rules to win (the game).”
Fleischer’s forecast for the economy and other matters came in the form of another sort of warning – and not just to members of his own party.
He contended that cooler heads must prevail in Washington before any meaningful legislation can pass. Both sides of the aisle, including President Obama, must exercise more “reasonableness,” he said.
According to Fleischer, future legislation most likely to impact local communities will come in the areas of budget reform, immigration and energy legislation to address global warming. Federal budget legislation could potentially impact future federal funding to states as well as personal and corporate income taxes.
Immigration reform could potentially impact jobs. Legislation or executive regulations to address global warming will likely affect the cost of using coal as an energy source.
He said Republicans have a “strong bench” of candidates for the 2016 presidential race, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and his personal favorite Mitch Daniels, whose term as governor of Indiana ended earlier this month.
In one of his more poignant moments, Fleischer recalled being with President Bush on Sept.11, 2001. Bush and staff were in Florida on a school visit when they learned about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Fleischer recalled Bush’s words upon seeing the Pentagon still smoking as they flew back into the nation’s capital that day: “The mightiest building in the world is on fire. This is war in the 21st century.”
Fleischer kept notes throughout that day, detailing the president’s actions.
Those notes will be included in the Sept. 11 display at the George W. Bush Presidential Library slated to open in Texas later this year.