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The Brief: Nov. 16, 2012

With national Republican leaders recuperating and reassessing after last week's election, a humbled John Cornyn has followed suit.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol

The Big Conversation:

With national Republican leaders recuperating and reassessing after last week's election, a humbled John Cornyn has followed suit.

Cornyn, who as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee led his party's efforts to recapture the upper chamber for the 2012 election cycle, told Politico that Republicans have a "brand problem" and need to fix their image with minorities and females, whom they lost by large margins on Election Day.

"How can we convey what I believe is the true image, that Republicans actually do care about people of all races, ethnicities and classes in America?" he said.

Cornyn, who was elected by his colleagues to the No. 2 GOP position in the Senate this week, has come under scrutiny since Election Day, when Democrats gained two Senate seats and defeated Republicans in several states once thought to be easy GOP pick-ups. Cornyn said the party's tendency not to intervene in GOP primaries — in which several insurgent conservatives picked off establishment Republicans, only to lose in the general election — may change.

"I think the goal is to elect principled conservatives in November, not just nominate somebody in the primary that has very little chance of getting elected in November," Cornyn said. "That doesn’t advance the conservative agenda, because you have to be elected before you can govern."

Cornyn's moment of reflection comes as national Republicans continue to cast about for a new direction and for new messaging or policy ideas, especially on issues like immigration. At a meeting of the Republican Governors Association on Thursday (which Texas Gov. Rick Perry attended), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal echoed Cornyn's sentiments about reaching out to a younger, increasingly diverse electorate.

"If we learn one thing from this campaign, we had better learn as a party that we’ve got to go after every single vote," Jindal said. "We need to say that, and we need to believe that."


  • The Obama administration announced on Thursday that it would again extend the deadline for states to set up so-called insurance exchanges, the state-based online marketplaces, similar to Orbitz or Travelocity, required as part of federal health care reform. The extension, however, may not have much of an effect in Texas, where Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday reaffirmed his opposition to the exchanges. "This is a federally mandated exchange that must be approved by the Obama administration, and will dictate the rules states must follow. Texas will not be a subcontractor to Obamacare," Perry's office said. For the states that decide not to set up their own exchanges, the federal government will establish the a one-size-fits all program for them instead.
  • The Daily Caller reported on Thursday that it had obtained details of a possible Republican alternative to the DREAM Act, the federal legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants. The alternative, called the ACHIEVE Act, is "being floated by some Republicans," the Caller reports, and resembles a proposal U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has worked on. The act would grant nonimmigrant visas to young people who can then work or attend school in the U.S. for several years before gaining a pathway to citizenship.
  • The Dallas Morning News reports that going over the fiscal cliff would cost Texas more than $650 million in federal grants. For instance, the Texas Women, Infants and Children program, which receives little funding from the state, would likely be crippled if the cuts took effect. "It is not the end of the world for the budget as a whole, but it’s very bad news for the programs they are funding because these are areas we don’t tend to put our own [state] money into," said Eva DeLuna Castro, a budget analyst for the Center on Public Policy Priorities, an Austin-based think tank.

"I tell people I'm healthy, I'm passionate, I still love what I'm doing. If you're not positive on both of those, you're not going to [run]. I'm positive on both of those." — Rick Perry, at the Republican Governors Association meeting on Thursday, on whether he'll seek re-election in 2014


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