NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Dick Morris, whose once rock-solid political reputation has taken a shellacking in the wake of some questionable recent analyses, said Thursday that Republicans need to acknowledge “we lost’’ the last presidential election and make the changes necessary to get back in the game.
“Republicans can come back,’’ he said. “They must come back.’’
Morris, the former political consultant turned network talking head who has worked on both sides of the political aisle, is somewhat notorious for confidently predicting that Republican Mitt Romney would defeat President Obama in 2012 by a landslide, garnering 325 electoral votes.
That, of course, didn’t come to pass. The Romney prognostication, along with several others of dubious wisdom, led some Republicans who would normally embrace his conservative message to disregard his take on the political scene.
Morris refused to discuss the issue with reporters after a presentation before a sparse crowd of about 60 CPAC delegates on Thursday, where he outlined the steps he believes the GOP has to take in order to return to relevancy on the national political scene.
The onetime adviser to President Bill Clinton recommended that Republicans stop demanding cuts in popular entitlement programs like Medicare and instead train their sights on welfare and Medicaid, which don’t carry overwhelming public support. He said the party should stop emphasizing a balanced budget and, like others, said it should do a better job of reaching out to Latinos, insisting that polling shows the group leans Republican on most issues outside immigration reform.
“The Republican Party has a tremendous ability to make inroads’’ in the Latino community, he said.
His most controversial comments came on the subject of abortion, asserting that Republicans should abandon the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade – the 1972 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed abortion rights – and instead work toward reducing the number of procedures through programs like adoption, the use of tax incentives, promoting birth control and abstinence, and requiring parental notification for minor girls.
Overturning the decision, he argued, “is a case we’re never going to win.’’
“Single white women run screaming from the Republican Party, largely because of our pro-life position,” Morris said.
Several attendees expressed interest in some Morris ideas but acknowledged that they are not impressed with his political insight.
“I’m not really a Dick Morris man,’’ said Patrick Wohl, of Chicago. “He’s a big talk and I didn’t believe him when he said all that about the presidential election and others but I did like some of his points.’’
Wohl said he agreed with Morris’ view that the party “needs to change the way it looks at things,’’ especially in the effort to attract Latinos.
Peggy Finn, of Rockland County, N.Y., who considers herself pro-life, said she disagreed on the Roe v. Wade points but otherwise agreed with his basic message.
“But I don’t really care much for him,’’ Finn said. “He’s worked for Democrats in the past and I’m not for that.’’
Vernon Mattesen, of Ham Lake, Minn., said he receives regular missives from Morris and generally supports him despite his less-than-stellar track record.
“I think he overdid it when he said we should stop talking about a balanced budget and we should get rid of that phrase,’’ Mattesen said. “I don’t think we should spend it if we don’t got it.’’
Regardless, the public is going to be hearing a lot more from Morris. Later this month he will begin hosting a talk-radio program out of Philadelphia.