I just got off the phone with the former RNC chairman.
On the war, he thinks Bush needs to reach out to the Democrats: “We just can’t have a partisan divide with our troops in combat. We can’t have it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want our troops home. The question is when and how.”
He doesn’t think that Republicans should now focus on taking back Congress. “I do think that the voters are looking for both parties to get some things done in the odd numbered years. We can’t just go right into battle mode on November Eighth. As the president said, you can find some common ground without compromising your principles. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.” As an example, he suggests a deal on the minimum wage. Although he thinks raising it is a mistake, he thinks Republicans should be able to live with it if it’s coupled with measures to help small business and create jobs.
The election will end up having had a cleansing effect, he predicts. “We got some of our dirt hosed off of us by the voters. We shouldn’t have made the voters do it for us, but we did. It would be good if we stayed clean now.”
I was about to end the call when he added a comment about spending: “We need to stake a vigorous claim on fiscal discipline now and demonstrate to all voters, but particularly our voters, that we can rein in federal spending.”
That will be easier–this is me talking now, not Gillespie–since Republicans will no longer be responsible for actually passing budgets and appropriations bills.