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Washington Post Chief Correspondent: GOP Must Choose Direction for 2016

By    |   Tuesday, 13 August 2013 07:02 PM

The GOP must come to a decision on what kind of philosophy they’re going to push going into the 2016 presidential election, according to Dan Balz, Chief Correspondent at the Washington Post.

"One of the choices that the Republicans are going to have to make is in what direction do they go in terms of a nominee," Balz told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"Do they look for somebody who they think can present the conservative philosophy, in a sense, in a much more robust way than either they thought [former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt] Romney or [Sen.] John McCain could?

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"Do they look for that kind of candidate or do they look for somebody who they think is not quite perfect on all of the issues but who might be able to convert some blue states to red?"

Balz believes whoever the Republicans select, he or she will be fighting an uphill battle if former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tosses her hat in the ring.

"She will be hard to beat — but people said she would be hard to be beat in 2008. There's no Barack Obama on the horizon in the Democratic Party at this point, but we're a long way away from [2016]," he said.

Balz added: "If Hillary Clinton runs, I don't think [Vice President] Joe Biden will run."

Balz — author of the new book, "Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America" — said the Romney team took various missteps throughout last year’s campaign.

For one, they underestimated voter turnout.

"They certainly did not anticipate that African American turnout would be anything close to what we saw in 2008," he said.

"One reason, in the African American community for example, there was a feeling that if Obama were not reelected it would almost in a sense invalidate the first election."

Similarly, the Romney team did not think the turnout of young voters would be anywhere close to what it was four years earlier, according to Balz.

"They thought that young people had been highly energized by the 2008 campaign and were somewhat dispirited by what had happened since, particularly because the job market was so tough … and yet youth turnout was pretty strong as well," he said.

"Part of that was that there was still enough enthusiasm among the Democratic base for Obama, part of it was that the Obama campaign worked very, very hard to identify anybody who might be likely to vote for the president and went out and found ways to get them to the polls as best they could."

Romney also did not do as well as expected in the second presidential debate at Hofstra University, despite the fact he was considered the winner of the first debate against Obama, according to Balz.

"Gov. Romney was pretty aggressive throughout but the big difference was that President Obama was also aggressive and in the way these kinds of events get looked at and covered, sometimes it's less important the words and more important kind of the body language and the tone and tenor," he told Steve Malzberg.

"Everybody went into that debate with one question in mind and that was, would the President Obama who was at the first debate show up again or would this be a different and more aggressive President Obama? That debate turned much more simply on the fact that the president was as aggressive, or a little more aggressive, than Mitt Romney.”

Despite that, Balz believes Romney was "extremely well prepared" for the debates.

"He knew his brief and he knew his opponent's weaknesses. In one debate or another he had to worry about Newt Gingrich or he had to worry about Rick Santorum and in all of those cases, he was armed with information that sort of caught them unawares," he said.

But the issue of the Benghazi terror attack which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans caused problems.

"This was a case in which when the president said he had said he had called it 'acts of terror,' which I believe were his exact words in the Rose Garden," Balz said.

"Gov. Romney was a little bit flummoxed and what he failed to do at that moment was to say, well you may have used the generic term ‘acts of terror’ in the Rose Garden, but immediately after that when you were pressed about calling that specific episode an act of terror, you were unwilling to do so.

"But instead he was caught off guard by that and in one way or another didn't have in mind the whole sequence of how the president had handled it and it made it easier for the president to essentially win that argument."

Balz also said Romney got tougher treatment by the press than Obama, but added it was not a question of media discrimination.

"That's a reflection not necessarily of bias in the media but, in part, on how skillful a campaign is at dealing with the media," he said.

"One of the problems that the Romney campaign had is that they were often reluctant to deal at the front end with kind of investigative pieces that were being done and then they would object to them after they had come out."

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The GOP must come to a decision on what kind of philosophy they're going to push going into the 2016 presidential election, according to Dan Balz, Chief Correspondent at the Washington Post.
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 07:02 PM
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