December 7th, 2012
05:26 PM ET

Baker: GOP needs to be party of optimism

"I think it’s really important that we be seen to be the party of hope, optimism and opportunity," former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker tells Fareed Zakaria on GPS. “That’s what Ronald Reagan taught us, instead of the party of doom and gloom, we need to be positive and not negative.”

“We need to appeal to those voter groups that we had trouble with. We need to appeal to all minority voters and particularly Hispanic and Asian voters. We need to have a credible and comprehensive immigration plan that we can put forth out there. We need to talk about urban issues and face the fact that we didn't get the votes we needed from urban areas. We didn’t get the votes and don’t get the votes we need from women.  Therefore, we need to focus on our economic conservatism more than our social conservatism, because a lot of those issues cut against us in the general election.”

Watch the full interview on GPS this Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m. ET

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Topics: 2012 Election • Politics • United States

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. deniz boro

    "Therefore, we need to focus on our economic conservatism more than our social conservatism, because a lot of those issues cut against us in the general election...?"
    Fareed do have some respect for the elderly.
    I recently started to believe that sending the elderly to pilgramage is the best way to retire them restpectully.

    December 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Reply
    • So

      The GOP needs to be the party of the people not the ultra rich. They need to jetison the right wing wackos and religious wackos that W Bush infected it with. They need to get rid of the tea baggers and Grover Norquist. They need to appeal to all americans not just old white angry conservatives. All that would entail a redoing of their insane ideas and policies which would kill most of them.

      December 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
      • toronto girl

        Well said! Doubt it will happen though. Republicans seem unable to change.

        December 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  2. 200 TON HAMMER

    Gop is washed up has been pasted their time,Democrats are here too make history for the middleclass and working poor,Democrats have a chance too raised the stock market too well over 100,000% in creased over the next 4 Decades

    December 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Baker is regarded as an old-fashioned pragmatic conservative – loyal to his boss HW Bush and to the GOP but not associated with the neocon ideologues who were among GW Bush's closest advisers during the early phase of the Iraq campaign.

      December 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        Baker doubted the neocons' goal that Iraq could become a regional bulwark for democracy. He rejected the demand voiced by many Democrats for a speedy withdrawal of US troops and feared a civil war thereafter.

        December 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
      • jjbills

        @ j.von hettlingen the Democrats were just as blood thirsty as the Republicans. The Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine live with the pain and memories for ever. Once the first bomb is dropped and bullet fired you can't take it back. So do try to make the Democrats look like Saints and re-paint history. They all need to understand the power they unleashed and live with it.

        December 10, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  3. george thorn

    The Republicans are what they believe they are and the American voter knows what that is and makes the decision on that reality. If the Republicans choose to be something else then they must say so. They must say "we no longer believe this". They cannot just take some of their core beliefs and not speak them and believe that, unheard, the American people will believe they no longer exist. Men have no right to regulate anything about s womans' life as a woman. It has to be said clearly.

    December 8, 2012 at 9:44 am | Reply
    • The pacific

      Bravo. We better watch out what they are saying and doing. Republican Party is not for Americans. We deserve better!

      December 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  4. JAL

    First remove the toxins, then confidence. There is no confidence in cancer.

    December 8, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
  5. George Harrington

    Baker said that they should be seen to believe. .Isn't it more important to be.that person? period. The imaginary will appear out of their isn't just something that they have to be seen as but something they have to be Perhaps we're saying the same thing but from a different direction Perhaps one comes from the heart and the other from the eye.

    December 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Reply
  6. unclegeorge

    If James Baker is describing what the Repulican should stand frothen I wonder wha t he thinks of the things the republicans think of now. Such as gun control? such as abortion? such as reducing the size of American Government..such as the United Nations as a world leader. such as the respect for woman and their needs as mothers, wifes and citizens.such as compromisng ?

    December 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  7. joe anon 1

    yes, let us be positive as we, the gop, steal from the middle class and give to the very rich, the powerful, the corrupt connected.

    December 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
  8. JAL

    George W Bush needs to get back in the game. he is the only one that can generate the good gravity needed in the Republican party. I know I miss him.

    December 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • Bush Family Are Nazis

      The Bush Family funded the Nazis before WWII. They also murdered JFK using EH Hunt as the hit man under the direction on GH Bush because JFK wanted to reign in the MIC and the FED. Google it.

      December 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Reply
      • DERP

        Bro, stay in school.

        December 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
      • i trust the internet

        so, we only find reliable information on the internet as long as we use googoo ?
        And here I thought Googoo provides a 'free', 'trustworthy' service by selling ads selling and placing the results of the highest bidder nearest the top of their results. Thanks for the tip...

        December 16, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • toronto girl

      I really hope that was sarcasm. Really really really!!!

      December 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Reply
  9. Walter

    "We need to talk about urban issues and face the fact that we didn't get the votes we needed from urban areas. "

    They really still don't get it. For Republicans it's "what do we need to do to win next time?" It's not about " we really need to be tuned in to the problems facing minorities, the urban poor and the middle class". It is quite pathetic ..

    December 9, 2012 at 7:54 am | Reply
  10. Jim Green

    President Obama/Council of Economic Advisers:


    President Obama had a weapon in addressing our economic meltdown in 2008, in America—not available to FDR during the Great Depression:

    And this was the hundreds of billions from Military Retirement and Social Security Insurance percolating up through our economy—

    In short, were it not for these moneys we would not be talking about having narrowly averted another Great Depression—we would be buried in one!

    Also, this model is a “win-win”—it addresses a critical social need, as well as benefits the economy i.e., the market—and yet the Republicans want to tamper with this vibrant social benefit in their short-sighted agenda to pander to the GREED of the 1%–it is their One and Only program!

    In short, this model is a “pro-market” concept—and least understood: An INDISPENSABLE component to the proper functioning of the market going forward in the 21st Century—

    The market thrives when we have a robust, employed, consuming workforce—but given the proliferating volatile nature of the market [the obsolete cycle is getting shorter and shorter], the market is no longer capable of producing the jobs necessary to its viability—and it is essential that we address this void with public sector jobs—ON BEHALF OF THE MARKET!

    The Buffer Stock Employment Model introduced at the University of Chicago in 1998, by Dr. William Mitchell, signaled a solution to this economic dilemma facing a modern market economy: Fix the market and this will fix our unemployment crisis vs fix unemployment and this will in turn fix the market—

    “Conventional Wisdom”, to date, has exclusively taken the former path—and the result has been a disaster—and in spite of a 7.7% unemployment rate—we still have 12 million jobless Americans, a sluggish recovery—and a CBO projection of 5 years just to get back to 5.5%–with unemployment benefits long since expired!

    Proposed, here, is The Neighbor-To-Neighbor Job Creation Act: A federally mandated mutual insurance, owned by our employed, to provide a fund to hire/train our unemployed. For a modest policy cost of 4% of salary we can reduce our unemployment to 3%, within a year of passage, and as “authorized” under Public Law 15 USC § 3101. The lone legislation in Washington, at present, relevant to the above is HR 870 [currently in Committee].

    See also, “OUR GREED AND IGNORANCE” on Amazon/Kindle; .

    Jim Green, Democrat candidate for Congress, 2000

    December 9, 2012 at 10:37 am | Reply
  11. Elaine

    "Therefore, we need to focus on our economic conservatism more than our social conservatism, because a lot of those issues cut against us in the general election..."

    I am a 67-year-old Caucasian woman living in a small city, and I think the old white men, current and former, running Washington should be put to pasture or take some current history classes. Baker almost used the term "hope and change" to describe his imagined GOP of the future. The Democrats figured this out in 1992, or maybe with FDR. If Baker wants to promote economic conservatism, why not stop the fear mongering, take money out of defense and spend it on buying opportunity for our people and others around the world.

    December 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Reply
    • dman968


      December 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  12. Shirley

    I agree everything should be on the table, but NOT BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. That's how we got into this mess. We have a bunch of politicians with no scruples. They are only used to making deals and not with the American people coming first. It's how the deal will continue to line their pocket books. We need ALL MEETINGS TO BE OPEN WITH THE EXCEPTION OF SECURITY. That's another point we AND THE WORLD know things in that area that we shouldn't. What a bunch of total selfish dufahs!!!

    December 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Reply
    • John Herling

      Open meetings would only produce grandstanding. Closed meetings will result in the hard bargaining that will produce an agreement.

      December 11, 2012 at 8:28 am | Reply
  13. Charles

    James Baker says "Reagan did not have any wars for 12 years." He glosses over Reagan's retreat from Beirut after 241 Marines were killed in their barracks.
    "The Middle East is in chaos right now," Bakers says 5 minutes later. Yes, it's in chaos because Reagan made the USMC cut and run in the early 1980s. Reagan kicked the can down the road, just as Clinton did with Bosnia, and the light-water nuke reactor for North Korea. And Clinton ignored the Rwanda genocide. Both presidents kicked the can down the road, and try later to make a virtue of their appeasement.

    December 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • ronnie blows

      You are being too kind. Reagan ran from Beirut squealing like a little girl. His actions convinced Bin Laden that the US was weak. Reagan, wanting the US to sit tall in tha' saddle agin', decided the best way to restore respect was to start a little central American war or two. He was every bit as reckless and clumsy as Dubbya... just not quite as dumb.

      December 16, 2012 at 2:23 am | Reply
  14. vicky

    James Baker is the most corrupt Secretary of Treasury in American history and the cause for the downfall of the economy in our Country.

    December 9, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      James Baker seems to be right about the disastrous war in Iraq. As Secretary of State to George HW Bush during the Gulf War, he warned against taking unilateral action to unseat Saddam. He thought America should seek authority from the UN.

      December 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Reply
  15. Bill

    Shame on CNN's GPS for spotlighting such a partisan hack as James Baker!!! In recent years, he has proved to be nothing more than a biased spokesperson for the Republican party and has nothing to offer from a bi-partisan perspective. Quite frankly, I find Mr. Baker rude and unsophisticated.
    Hence why I'm shocked GPS would give him such attention!

    December 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
  16. Dave

    I was disapointed that Fareed let James get away with these two comments within a few sentances of eachother.
    1) "we are not under taxed"
    2) "we need to agree on a spending to GNP ratio; say around 20% to 22%"

    This is what caused our debit. We have historically spent about 22% of GNP. Bush tax cuts took our revenue (taxes collected) down to about 15%. This equals deficit and is the same thing Republicans have been avoiding/doing for years.

    Fareed, you know the above and you blew that one. Did you do it on purpose?

    December 10, 2012 at 8:09 am | Reply
    • Carml

      Fareed is just another in the herd of pundits that missed it by a mile!

      December 14, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
  17. Kristin Zern

    This was a brilliant interview. Fareed covered so much beyond the Republican parties woes and Baker had impressive answers to everything. And his insights were brilliant. He is like A Rockefeller Republican of old. Obama should hire him as an advisor if not the Secretary of State.

    December 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  18. John Herling

    How can the GOP possibly address the needs of cities, the poor, and the unemployed without becoming the Democratic Party? If economic conservatism were the answer, then you have to ask why the the voters would be willing to go along with that policy when it created the recession.

    December 11, 2012 at 8:25 am | Reply
  19. The pacific

    What the GOP is doing rite now is simply masking themselves with other deception. They should know by now that Americans ain't stupid. Oh wait what have the GOP done lately? Reject the UN rights for the disability? Voters, be ware! Them GOP have not learned their lesson yet.... GOP is a party of thugs as of now. Leave that party, teach them another lesson.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  20. Rick McDaniel

    There IS no optimism.

    There cannot be, when you see the level of corruption, and that the people are voting for that corruption.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
  21. krehator

    It is, for the top 2% only. They are cheering the GOP on from China.

    December 14, 2012 at 1:51 am | Reply
  22. Carml

    This advice from the guy who jury rigged Shrub's election ? Still just a bunch of angry ole white guys and their wingnut religious wacko pals

    December 14, 2012 at 9:35 am | Reply
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