Gio Cicione: We will change our brand by returning to our ideals
[Below are excerpts from Gio’s remarks at the RIGOP Convention March 19. Full text available in Microsoft Word.]
Thank you all for the opportunity to serve you again as Rhode Island Republican Party chair.
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It takes a Carter to get a Reagan. 1976 was four short years leading up to the greatest Republican Revolution – and the most successful Conservative leader – in a generation – 1980.
And there is no doubt in my mind that we will get there. We have all the tools we need. We are unified. We are strong. We are committed to the cause.
More than that, I believe firmly that the political tides are already turning.
With the election of Michael Steele the leadership at the Republican National Committee has changed in a way that will allow us to speak directly to a broader range of voters – and note that I said ‘speak to’, not ‘pander to’. In other words, we will convert our message and modify our language to appeal to more voters as Republicans, but we will not try to win votes by trying to change into Democrats. Pandering is a proven strategy for failure. I really believe that this is the most important issue we face as a party. We have all had many discussions about how to position ourselves to the voters. Are we kooky right wing wackos? Are we RINO’s? How big is a big tent exactly?
I am here to tell you that this debate is over. The Democrats and the media love to talk about Republican divisiveness. The more time we spend with that sort of infighting, the less time we spend beating Democrats. It makes for a good story in the projo, but it makes for an ineffective political party. I need all of you to commit tonight to leave the infighting to the Democrats. Let Frank Caprio run as a conservative and Liz Roberts run as a socialist, and we’ll see where they land. We will run as Republicans. We are for small government and individual liberty. We want the state out of our business, and we will do more for our fellow citizens by putting that philosophy into play. We will win elections by presenting a constant and bold agenda. If that means we need to take a friendly jab at those Republicans that stray from our small government philosophy, then so be it. But we must deal with party discipline issues with respect and with the goal of bringing those folks closer through persuasion and the power of our beliefs; not driving them out because we fear diverse opinions.
At the same time as we are pulling together, the tide is dramatically changing for the Dems. According to pollsters Schoen and Rasmussen, Obama’s approval rating is below where President George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001 and still heading down. Yes, that George W. Bush. Some honeymoon. I guess those Obama voters really were expecting cash to be dropped out of helicopters after he won.
So without the helicopter money, the democrat Congress is left trying to fight the political battle the democrats know nothing about – the economy. They are failing. They are failing miserably.
Do I want Obama to fail? Absolutely. If he succeeds in what he is attempting to do – what he and Rahm Emmanuel and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are trying to do – then we will all suffer the consequences. It will be Carter times 10.
He must fail, and we must succeed, because he wants to socialize the economy – to put bureaucrats in change of Wall Street. We must stand up for freedom.
He must fail and we must succeed, because he wants to force doctors and pharmacists to support abortion against their will, and we believe in rights of conscience.
He must fail and we must succeed, because he believes – or perhaps he just hopes – that a man in an oval office in a white house in Washington DC can micro-manage a nation of 300 million free individuals, and we know that he cannot.
So what do we do? How do we engage the enemy, fight the battle? How do we do our part here, in our great state of Rhode Island? How do we support the Governor in his ongoing struggle to bring this state back from the brink of the abyss?
First, we recognize that which makes us republicans. We are not the Moderate Party. We are not Greens or Cool Moose. We are not the Conservative Party. We are the un-hyphenated Republican Party.
We stand for basic principles of individual freedom, the power of free markets, and the rule of law. I don’t think there is anyone in this room who can’t embrace that basic philosophy (well, maybe the reporters.)
Of course, we do not all agree on every issue, and that’s ok. We believe in the power of our ideas, and welcome debate because we know we hold the high ground. In our hearts, we know we are right.
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In the end, this upcoming election will be the step towards a new Republican majority. We will gain seats, we will gain power, and we will keep the governors office in hands that will continue the stewardship and ideals of governor Carcieri and our Republican leaders.
We will change our brand by returning to our ideals. At the same time we will offer solutions and not just criticisms. We will outline a path for job creation, economic growth, effective and efficient government services, and diligent, fair, and just enforcement of laws.
We will take pride in our independence, but speak with one unified voice when delivering our message of hope and prosperity for all.
We will speak to every Rhode Islander and ask for every vote by adapting our message to those who are not used to hearing it and bringing it to the people instead of waiting for them to come our way.
We will succeed because we must succeed. Because the future of our great state demands that we succeed. Because our solutions are the only solutions that will relieve the suffering, lift the pallor of despair, and restore hope – we will succeed.
Gio Cicione begins his second term as Chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party.