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Who Can Save the GOP From Itself?

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/10/2015 Guy Golan
JOHN KASICH © NBC via Getty Images JOHN KASICH

For months, the American public has experienced the political circus know as the Republican primaries. Led by reality television star Donald Trump and the seemingly obsessed cable news networks, this GOP contest has little to do with political substance and much to do with television ratings.
Yet, these primaries are important for the Republican Party and for those who care about its future. After two failed presidential elections, the Grand Old Party must present voters with an alternative who will resonate with not only its base but also with moderates and independents.
It was not too long ago that Democrats faced a similar situation. Following three failed presidential races, the party rallied behind the "New Democrats" Clinton-Gore ticket that ran from the center on such mainstream issues as fixing the economy, creating new jobs and fixing the nation's welfare system. History proved this political realignment to be a success.
Republicans would be wise to borrow a page from history and present a centrist agenda. Candidates such as Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie all have the potential to position themselves as centrists. Yet, none of them is gaining any significant political traction within the primary race. Their campaigns are further undermined by a GOP debate that is focused on issues near and dear to Evangelicals and Tea Party supporters rather than the party's mainstream base.
If its ambitions lie beyond keeping control of Congress, the GOP and its nominee should refocus the national debate on salient, mainstream issues such as jobs, education, healthcare, and America's role in the world; as well as connecting with important constituencies such as Millennials, women and Hispanics.
It is time for the Republican establishment to place its full support behind centrist candidates such as Mitt Romney or Michael Bloomberg. While both have their limitations as candidates, they are nationally known and respected figures who match Trump in their records of financial success and far exceed him in terms of political substance.
For nearly a decade, bipartisan cooperation has been replaced by ideological grandstanding. One public opinion poll after another indicate that both Democrats and Republicans are fed up with politics as usual. Such frustrations may in part explain Donald Trump's emergence as the front-runner. Yet, what the Republican Party needs now is not another divisive leader but rather, a leader who can extend a hand of cooperation across the political aisle. Both Mitt Romney and Michael Bloomberg have a long record of bipartisanship that led to quality governance in Massachusetts and in New York City.
Based on President Obama's low approval ratings and Hillary Clinton's inability to rise in the polls, the 2016 elections can spell real opportunity for Republicans.
A shift to the center can once again make the GOP home of independents and the political mainstream and bring back the spirit of bipartisanship that is long missing from Washington DC.

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