The Blog

Governors to the Rescue

5:45 PM, Sep 2, 2008 • By GARY ANDRES
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St. Paul
John McCain needs to win back "disaffected Republicans" if he hopes to be the next president of the United States. This voter group supported President Bush in 2000 and 2004 but since then has grown disenchanted with the party brand over issues like earmarks, spending, and managerial competency.

Pollsters believe this group could represent as much as 10 percent of the GOP base vote. Here in St. Paul, many Republican activists believe GOP governors may help win back this constituency. For example, Sarah Palin helps a lot with this effort. She's a reformer, willing to take on even her own party, who sends a strong message to Republicans disappointed with their party's performance on governance and spending.

"We used to be the party of ‘managerial competency,'" a Republican strategist told me yesterday. "We lost that over the last several years - and our governors can help us win that back."

Republicans featured four Gulf state governors via satellite during yesterday's opening convention session. Governors Perry (TX), Barbour (MS), Riley (AL) and Crist (FL) were all featured preparing for the hurricanes - on duty, putting their people and their government responsibilities ahead of partisan politics.

Louisiana received the brunt of the storm, so Governor Jindal was not included in the video montage demonstrating these state leaders "on the job." But a Republican consultant told me this on the convention floor yesterday: "Jindal's performance during this crisis compared to Blanco's (the former Democratic governor of Louisiana) was jarring. He didn't wait to take action; he was proactive; he was all over the media; he had facts, details and he spoke with authority. She, on the other hand, was always reacting and looked like a deer in the headlights."

If Republicans want to rebuild their brand as competent managers, they should take some lessons from their Southern governors, with particular emphasis on Bobby Jindal's performance.