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Viguerie: GOP Must Look Beyond Bush for Presidential Nominee

Tuesday, 10 Jun 2014 11:32 AM

By Melissa Clyne

The American people do not like the Bush family, and a Jeb Bush presidential candidacy would not be good for the country or the Republican Party, says Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, a website dedicated to bringing limited government and tea party candidates to power.

"When I think of Jeb Bush, I think of 'Groundhog Day,'" said Viguerie, whose book "Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It" was recently published.

"I mean, how many Bushes do we have to go through? The American people don't like the Bushes. They gave George H.W. Bush a landslide victory in 1988 because they thought they were voting for Ronald Reagan's third term. Sitting President George H.W. Bush got 38 percent of the vote when he ran for re-election in 1992.

"His son, George W. Bush, got 500k votes less than Al Gore and won by 537 votes, won by one state for re-election. I'd be very concerned if Jeb Bush were the nominee. The general rule is the American voters do not like big government."

Speaking to Newsmax TV's "America's Forum," Viguerie said the GOP needs to look outside Washington and to the states for the 2016 presidential nominee. He offered his thoughts on which governors might be attractive to hardline conservatives.

Story continues below video.

"I've expanded my governor list, and I think Sam Brownback of Kansas is somebody we should take a serious look at," he said, adding that Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana are also "a good collection" of potential choices.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been a "big disappointment," and no true conservative wants to see him as the 2016 nominee, says Viguerie.

Viguerie said he had a "brief affair" with Texas governor and 2012 presidential candidate Rick Perry until he "self-imploded in the debate."

"We need to keep our eye on him for a possibility, but he's probably not on too many conservatives' minds now. He may now be ready for prime time."

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is also a "strong possibility," Viguerie said.

The tea party has had great success in moving the GOP to the right, and while tea partiers should continue to be a strong presence, they should not be disappointed when they lose to incumbents, says Viguerie.

"It is exceedingly difficult to beat an incumbent, and 90 to 95 percent of tea party victories have come in open races," he said. "We can't expect to have many victories."

Simply opposing an establishment Republican and getting the tea party message heard helps steer establishment incumbents to the right, such as Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, whom Viguerie cited as an example. Cantor is being challenged by tea party candidate Dave Brat.

"Eric Cantor is acting much more conservative," Viguerie said.

"I think the No. 1 thing is send them a message. By voting against these establishment Republicans, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Eric Cantor in Virginia, is sending them a message. If you vote for them, you're encouraging that bad behavior, and they don't realize that American voters want change, and we want it now."

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