The Republican Party's presidential hopes will hinge on conservatives, according to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
"People are like, 'Oh, should it be a moderate? Somebody who can get elected?'" the Louisiana Republican told Politico.
"You know, I’d argue we’ve had moderates nominated the last few times and they haven’t won. Show me the last time a conservative has lost the presidency."
"I think if we have a strong conservative with a proven record, we’ll win the White House," he declared.
Scalise was tepid about moderate Jeb Bush's political resume, saying, "Jeb’s got some good things in his record, there are some things with his record that I disagree with."
But he is enthusiastic about his role in making the GOP House leadership more conservative.
"There was this mischaracterization that I ran for leadership to be the guy to get conservatives to vote for leadership," Scalise told Politico.
"I said I would be a conservative voice at the leadership table. My goal is to get leadership to bring more conservative policies to the floor, it’s not the other way around to get conservatives to vote for something they don’t like. It’s to get a more conservative product, and we’ve actually delivered on a number of occasions there."
Politico characterizes Scalise's sit-down as "a kind a reemergence" after getting singed by reports he once attended a meeting
organized by a white supremacist in Louisiana.
But with a "a handful of legislative victories under his belt" – including passage of the 2016 House GOP budget
and a "doc fix"
to Medicare physician reimbursements – Scalise is increasing his visibility in Washington, Politico reports.
And of his legislative victories, Scalise said, "It didn’t just happen on its own, it took a lot of work."
"You gotta get into some confrontations sometimes to get the right result on the floor, but I think the bulk of our member ship wants us to work out problems before a bill comes to the floor."
"Any time you’re working on big things, you’re going to get criticized along the way," Scalise adds. "I think at the end of the day, you’re judged on results. The budget is the biggest thing we do. It’s not just our vision document, it’s a document that’s supposed to unify our conference and it did that."
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