As Republicans search for a viable candidate for the 2016 presidential election, the leading prospective contenders need to clean up their credentials, GOP strategist Ford O'Connell says.
Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker all have work to do to overcome past difficulties and clean up their images for Republican voters and donors, O'Connell told John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.
Paul, the senator from Kentucky, will have to backtrack on his libertarian, isolationist foreign policies if he is to appeal to the party base.
"That's really what's hurting him with Republican donors. They want somebody who is going to have a muscular foreign policy and, unfortunately as we're seeing with Obama right now, peace through strength only works when you're perceived to be strong," O'Connell said.
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Florida Sen. Rubio has strong foreign policy credentials as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, O'Connell said. But he badly damaged his Party credentials by pushing hard for unpopular immigration reform, then bailing on his own plan.
"He tripped and fell over immigration. I don't agree with how he did what he did, but I understood what he was trying to do," O'Connell said. "What he's going to have to do is prove himself a strong conservative on a lot of other issues, including foreign policy and spending. He's going to have to really up his game on certain issues, and he's been out there framing it that way."
Wisconsin Gov. Walker has emerged as a credible candidate with strong leadership skills, but O'Connell isn't sure Walker can generate enthusiasm among voters.
"My concern with Scott Walker is he needs to up his showmanship," O'Connell said.
"Unfortunately, he doesn't exactly light people's hair on fire when he talks and part of being president is, you're not voting for the person who is most sound on issues. You're voting for someone who is almost an entertainer.
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