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Playing to party strengths page 3
Jennifer Marisco's op-ed on the GOP convention: 2012 campaign topics.

 Even though Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was successful, the GOP has worked to distance itself from culture wars.
Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times/MCT
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Date published: 8/26/2012

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Introducing Mitt Romney will be first-term Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who, like Christie, was among the top names mentioned as a potential running mate for Romney. Even before his election to the Senate, Rubio was a Tea Party favorite, known for his support for fiscal discipline. While in the Florida House of Representatives, Rubio championed the elimination of the state's homestead tax, to be replaced with a higher sales tax. He became a favorite of anti-tax groups as a result. Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, even called Rubio "the most pro-taxpayer legislative leader in the country."

It is not that Romney, Ryan, and the major speakers at the Republican National Convention do not possess strongly conservative social and foreign policy positions. All of them, for example, would consider themselves pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-Israel. But their main policy focus is the economy--cutting taxes, reducing spending and the size of government, and reforming costly government programs. Fiscal austerity is the essence of their conservatism--and it will likely define the party for several elections to come.

CONTROL SPENDING

And it should. When it comes to dealing with a range of economic issues, Americans tend to believe that Republicans would do a better job than Democrats. A June NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that Americans trust Republicans to control government spending more than Democrats by a 40 to 23 percent margin. Thirty-seven percent trust Republicans to do a better job on reducing the deficit, compared to 25 percent for Democrats. Clearly, Republicans have a decisive trust advantage over Democrats on spending matters. So it's only natural--and smart--for the party to emphasize its policy strengths.


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WHAT REPUBLICANS KNOW: IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID

Jennifer Marsico is a senior research associate at the American Enterprise Institute, focusing on campaigns and elections, election reform, and government continuity issues.