Republican governors worry about divisive GOP primary race
Republican governors say they are concerned the prolonged primary race has alienated independent voters and may have badly damaged the eventual nominee.
(Page 2 of 2)
Daniels said he would not consider jumping into the race even if Romney were to lose Michigan. Some Republican leaders have said privately that if Romney does not prevail in Michigan – a state where he was born and grew up and where his father served as governor – the defeat could serve as an opening for a party heavyweight like Daniels to join the field.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Daniels, who has not endorsed a candidate, said he didn't believe a potential Romney loss in Michigan indicated unremitting problems with his candidacy.
"The problem I would worry about, and have all along, is that our side might not offer a bold enough and specific enough and constructive enough and, I would say, inclusive enough alternative to America," Daniels said.
Maine Republican governor Paul LePage suggested the drawn-out negativity of the contest could mean Republicans should reach for a new candidate strong enough to defeat the president.
"If they continue to beat each other up, then maybe we should get somebody unknown to go against Obama. They're damaging themselves," Le Page said. "It's like a marital battle. Somebody's got to apologize."
Some Republican governors voiced concern that social issues like contraception and gay marriage had at times eclipsed discussion of the economy in the presidential primary race.
"I do agree those social issues are not as significant as some of the economic and fiscal issues that really threaten our way of life," South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard said, saying he was worried the debate over such issues might alienate uncommitted voters.
Contraception emerged as a hot button issue last month after the Obama administration announced it would require church-affiliated employers to include birth control as part of an employee's health insurance coverage. The decision drew outrage from Catholic bishops and other religious leaders, and Obama eventually retooled the requirement to say health insurers, not the religious groups themselves, must pay for the coverage.
Many Republicans, including the leading presidential candidates, slammed Obama for what they called government infringement on religious liberty. But their hard line risked making the candidates look as though they were anti-birth control – particularly Santorum, a Roman Catholic who has said he believes contraception is harmful to women.
The problem was further compounded when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a rising Republican star widely considered a contender for the vice presidential nomination, backed a controversial bill that would have required women undergo a vaginal ultrasound before receiving an abortion.
McDonnell backed down this week, asking the bill's sponsors to require a less invasive ultrasound procedure instead. But the controversy drew national attention and scorn from women's groups.
Pennsylvania Republican Gov. John Corbett said he wasn't concerned that social issues had become part of the presidential campaign, saying such topics are top concerns for many Republican voters. But Corbett, who hasn't endorsed a primary candidate, said the discussion would shift once a nominee is chosen.
"It will be the economy, the economy, the economy and it will be jobs, jobs, jobs. And I think that's exactly where it should be," Corbett said.