Conservative political strategist and pundit Mary Matalin said Wednesday recruiting GOP women and minority candidates to run at the state level is the key to reversing the tide of Democratic national victories.
"Republicans will not win future national elections unless more women and minorities run as Republicans at the state level and enter the pipeline of leadership," Matalin warned at the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee's annual state leadership luncheon in Atlanta.
Though the GOP controls 60 state legislative chambers, holds "veto-proof majorities" in 16 states, and "last cycle, saw a net gain of seats in over 30 chambers," Matalin said, there's more work to do to put a Republican in the White House.
And it will involve mobilizing conservative women and minorities, she said, noting that if the nation's projected population growth continues and the 2020 GOP presidential nominee gets the same percentage of the Hispanic vote as John McCain in 2008 — which was higher than Mitt Romney's in 2012 — the candidate still would lose by 14 points.
"We must encourage principled, conservative men and women from every Zip code and every background to join in the national debate because only our principles and policies will make our Republican Party, and more importantly our nation, stronger," said Matalin.
Matalin pointed to a widening gender gap in recent presidential elections, telling the leadership group that women favored Barack Obama by 10 percentage points over Mitt Romney in 2012, and the gaps in 2008 and 2004 both were 7 points.
Still, Matalin — married to Democratic consultant James Carville and the mother of two — said female voters already have proved to be a formidable voting force.
She noted nearly 67 percent of women older than 18 are registered to vote, and though still voting more Democrat than Republican, theyh are supporting conservative principles and policies. Matalin maintained that women turn out to vote in numbers that equal or exceed male voter turnout, and cast 4 million to 7 million more votes than men.
The conservative consultant, who is backs Liz Cheney in her challenge to Wyoming incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi, specifically praised the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee's "Right Women, Right Now" initiative for pressing for diversity in the GOP's elected leaders.
The initiative is jointly headed by Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, and Tennessee Speaker Beth Harwell.
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