Who Are The Rising Stars In The GOP? Republican governors are meeting in Miami to discuss the future of their party. After last week's crushing loss in the presidential and congressional elections, analysts expect to see significant restructuring of the GOP.
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Who Are The Rising Stars In The GOP?

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Who Are The Rising Stars In The GOP?

Who Are The Rising Stars In The GOP?

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This is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand.


And I'm Alex Cohen. Coming up, midnight rules. With about two months left in office, President Bush is trying to push through all sorts of regulations that might be hard for the next president to undo.

BRAND: First, though, Republican governors are gathering in sunny Miami today for their annual conference for the governors and their spouses. There are gala dinners, golf outings, and some activities, such as boat cruising and for those who really need it, a day of beauty.

All right, enough of the fun. There will also be some serious soul searching. Republicans are coming off their biggest electoral loss in decades. NPR's Greg Allen is there covering the Republican Governors Conference, and he joins us now from Miami. And Greg, a day of beauty? I mean, really.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Your governor, Charlie Crist, wouldn't need that. But what else is on the schedule?

GREG ALLEN: Well, this is Miami, after all. So, we want to take advantage of all we have to offer here, Madeleine. But, you know, what they're here really about is looking at what happened in the election and what's the way forward. So today, they've got a bunch of events scheduled which really look at the election, kind of taking it apart and looking at what went right and what went wrong. And, of course, since this is a public event, they're going to try to put the focus on the positive.

And, you know, they did have some wins here. One win was in Puerto Rico, believe it or not. We had a Republican governor, Luis Fortuno, win down there. The Democratic governor was indicted, and so that was a good win for them. They also be will be featuring people today like North Dakota Governor John Hoeven, who just coasted to his third term in office. And also, we had a win on election day from Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. And this will all be featured today, and, of course, the one person who everybody will be listening to will be Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal, who's been in office now two years.

BRAND: Yeah, and he has sort of a Barack Obama story. He was mentioned as a possible VP candidate for John McCain. He's only been in office for two years.

ALLEN: Yeah, and, you know, he's turned out to be very popular in Louisiana. You know, even when he was a congressman, people started advocating that he should run for governor. And, of course, he finally did that and ran and won. That, of course, came after the - in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. There was a real loss of faith in government in a place that people really did count on government.

Jindal ran - he's a conservative, but he really ran as a competent, a competent manager, and he's been very much of a pragmatist. He's come in and made things work that people didn't think could work in Louisiana.

We had one example of his leadership style on display was when we had Hurricane Gustav earlier this year. And it was a very well-run evacuation. It really ended up being something that showed that Louisiana can handle - do things right. And that's one reason why he's so popular down here.

BRAND: OK. So, Bobby Jindal is a big star in the Republican Party, and the other big star we know, of course, Sarah Palin, and I guess that's the reason why there are so many journalists in Miami at this time of year.

(Soundbite of laughter)

ALLEN: It's true. These events, you know, they usually bring a few hardcore political people in, but this one has gotten a lot of attention because, of course, Sarah Palin is basically doing a post-election tour of the media, and she'll be giving a news conference here tomorrow, which will be highly anticipated. She's actually addressing an open press conference.

She's done a lot of interviews this week, and as part of that, she's been talking about her political future. She's talked about that, you know, she thinks it was a tough campaign and doesn't really take any of the blame herself for what went wrong with the campaign. But she's trying to look ahead, and she has said that she thinks - she's going to be watching for an open door in four or eight years, which suggests that she's looking for a political future.

BRAND: Hard to believe that just a week after the election, we're already talking about 2012. But anyway, these governors, are they talking about anything else besides politics? Are they talking about what they're going to do to possibly, you know, help their constituents back in their home states?

ALLEN: Well, you know, this is happening in Miami, which is really hit hard by this housing downturn. We've got all these high-rise condos, you know, most of which are - many of which are empty. And we're hurting down here economically in Florida.

So, economics have to be a part of the discussion, though I think that people will dance around it because it's more about politics. But let's face it. That really was one of the key reasons why Republicans did so badly in the election, and they've got to look to governors who have some answers about the economy.

I'm not sure anyone does yet. Certainly, Charlie Crist has yet to come to terms with the problems going on here in housing and education and unemployment. Arnold Schwarzenegger is not going to be here today and tomorrow, and that - one reason might be because of the problems he's confronting out there in California where you are, of course. So, I think it's one of those things that will be under the surface, but there's no good answers at this point for the party.

BRAND: That's NPR's Greg Allen speaking to us from the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami, site of the Republican Governors Conference. Thanks, Greg.

ALLEN: My pleasure, Madeleine.

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