The Spectacle Blog

Breakfast With Pence

By on 9.19.06 | 12:27PM

Just got back from our inaugural Newsmaker Breakfast meeting featuring Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, who leads what's left of the fiscal conservative wing of the House.

Pence said the Republican Party's drift toward supporting big government arose out of a mistaken perception among Republican leaders that they could try to beat Democrats at their own game. The justification for No Child Left behind was "Democrats have a huge advantage on education." A similar rationale fueled the Medicare prescription drug plan. The reality, Pence argues, is that both policies alienated conservatives without winning anybody else over -- and neither programs are popular. "We will never win by being them, we will only win by being us," Pence said.

But the congressman said he "vehemently" disagrees with those conservatives who argue that things might be better if Republicans would lose control of Congress. He said, "We don't need more liberal Democrats, we need more conservative Republicans." He expects Republicans to maintain their majority and believes that in the next Congress, Republicans will be more committed to small government and spending restraint. His theory was that after the mid-terms, the start of the presidential campaign season will spur a debate among Republicans on the future of the party. Republicans will realize that Democrats will be bringing their A game in 2008, and to win Republicans will have to offer "a choice, not an echo" and reestablish themselves as the party of limited government. I'll believe that when I see it.

On other issues, he said that he's confident that the immigration issue will be resolved by 2008 (though Democratic control would mean an amnesty plan).

On Iraq, he said, "Even in Indiana there is consternation about Iraq. Hoosiers want us to come home, but they want us to win first." He defined winning in Iraq as reaching the point where the free Iraqi government can maintain the nation's security on its own.

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