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Kristol: GOP Should Worry Less About Looks; Act On Conservative Principles

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: If I hear another politician talking about rebranding the party or changing the image, why don't they just advance policies? Republicans control the House of Representatives, right? They very much dislike Obamacare. Fine, pass a bill repealing Obamacare or delaying it and then pass a replacement. It's not going to pass the Senate, President Obama's not going to sign it, but it will show how Republican policies help.

Republicans dislike the financial regulations in Dodd-Frank, pass different regulations that help community banks. If you can't pass the whole thing, pass bite-sized pieces of legislation that would help the country. I mean, I really think they should talk less about rebranding themselves and actually pass some legislation, either big legislation or medium-sized bites that which embody conservative principals.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS: Why have they been losing so badly on messaging, Bill?

KRISTOL: They haven't been losing that badly on messaging. They lost the presidential election by 3 points, they held the House of Representatives, the Democrats got 1 million more votes for the complete House out of 110 million cast, or something like that. And if they simply govern effectively, if they do their best in the House and they oppose President Obama, they'll do fine. They should worry less about how they look and they should just act according to conservative principles.

CHARLES LANE, WASHINGTON POST: They also, although Bill left it out, they lost a lot of Senate races. And one reason they lost --

KRISTOL: And who were most of the people who lost? Establishment candidates. And now the establishment is going to come in -- right, Tea Party candidates lost and about 7 establishment candidates lost.

LANE: Todd Aiken branded the whole party. Eric Cantor, who has studied these issues, I think, carefully, at least I hope he got his money's worth, is doing some important things in his speech. He's saying --

KRISTOL: The Washington Post and the Republican establishment are coming to the rescue of those idiots out in the country.

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KRISTOL: The whole Republican establishment is going to come to the rescue of the Republican party. The most anti-establishment Republican year, Republican set of candidates, Republican spirit was 2010. Republicans won 64 House seats and 7 Senate seats. The establishment took over in 2012. It was Mitt Romney, just the economy, we're not talking about foreign policy, not talking about social issues, very focused.

The Republican establishment loved that, Crossroads spent $300 million and Republicans lost seats and lost the presidency. Maybe we should just let the Republicans and the conservatives of the country run their campaigns.

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KRISTOL: I think let's have primaries in all these states, people can butt in as they wish on both sides. It's hard to know ahead of time who the best candidates are. The whole establishment was behind Charlie Crist in 2009 and against Marco Rubio, who couldn't win. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin couldn't win. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania couldn't win. You don't know ahead of time always who can win.

I myself agree, Akin was a very bad candidate and most Tea Party people were not not for him, incidentally. But I have no problem with people in Washington helping the candidates they prefer.

ROBERTS: Do you or do you not foresee any kind of civil war brewing within the Republican party?

KRISTOL: I think there will be lots of little civil wars in lots of different states, a lot of that is healthy. When were there a lot of contentious primaries? 2010, there were a couple off the rails, as Charles says. And Republicans lost a seat they could've picked up in Delaware. 2010, though, was a very contentious year within the Republican party and very good for the Republican party. A little internal debate, some primaries, some arguing about the best way to go about advancing conservatives principles isn't such a bad thing. (Special Report, February 5, 2013)

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