Vol. 42, No. 4

A Note From the Chairman Emeritus

When it comes to the media’s reporting of political conventions, a favorite storyline has emerged in recent years. It goes something like this:

An Enduring Peace

As he prepares to accept the Republican nomination for President, the FORUM asked John McCain what foreign policy would look like in his administration.

Rebel with a Cause

Despite his reputation as a maverick, the hallmark of John McCain’s career has been a devotion to the security. of America

Why I am a Republican

Amidst efforts to rebuild the GOP brand, the FORUM asked prominent Republicans to discuss why they joined the party and the issues they believe will be critical to its success in 2008.

Why Ideas Matter

The Governor of Mississippi says good policy, not politics, is the key to the GOP’s future.

Limiting Spending: We’ve done it before; we can — and must — do it again

We’ve done it before; we can – and must – do it again.

Fanning the Flames of Change

South Carolina’s Governor outlines his plan for changing the tax system and giving people a choice in his state.

What Trade Means to My State

The Governor of Minnesota discusses his efforts to strengthen his state’s position with regard to global trade.

Health Care Reality Check

The goal of any reform should be the same as the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.

The Search for Common Ground A Q&A with Howard Baker

The former Tennessee Senator discusses a bipartisan effort he is leading to break the political logjam in Washington.

It’s More Than Just Words

The veteran speechwriter discusses the importance of tone in politics and the GOP’s message this fall.

Reagan in Youngstown

There aren’t many Republicans in this rust-belt city. But that didn’t stop Ronald Reagan from campaigning there in 1980.

The Ripon Profile of Tim Pawlenty

Republicans must present ideas and solutions that address the concerns of Americans in a positive, hopeful and pragmatic manner, while remaining faithful to our principles.

Why I am a Republican

Essays from prominent Republicans

If one believes what one reads in the newspapers and sees on TV, a branding effort is currently underway to rebuild the Republican Party’s image leading up to the November general elections.

The effort is being led by House Minority Leader John Boehner in Washington, and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue in the states.  There is no indication that the two are coordinating their actions.  In fact, by some accounts, there may be some disagreement over the direction of the effort and where it may end up.  One thing is certain, however – this kind of rehabilitation project is needed.  Some would say it is also long overdue.

In light of this effort, the Forum thought it would be helpful to ask a question that is critical the GOP brand.  The question is “Why am I a Republican?”  On its surface, the question seems simple enough.  But underneath, we believe this question gets to the heart of not only how Republicans define their party, but how the party, ultimately, defines itself.

We asked six prominent Republicans to write short essays explaining why they joined the GOP, what they believe the party stands for today, and the issues they believe the party should promote to achieve electoral success in the coming year.  Four of our writers serve at different levels of government.  Two are known for their work and achievements in their respective fields.

All of them, we believe, represent viewpoints that will be critical to the effort to repair the GOP’s image and ensure its success in the elections in 2008.


Orrin Hatch
United States Senator
Salt Lake City, Utah


I haven’t always been a Republican. I was raised in a Democrat, union family. Growing up, my family was poor, and I bought into the need for many of the so-called government give-away programs. I learned a skilled trade and became a union card-carrying journeyman metal lather.

But as I went to college, on a Mormon mission, and to law school, I recognized government was not the answer to every problem. I learned that personal responsibility and a government closer to the people was supremely better for businesses and individuals than an intrusive federal government that led to personal dependency through liberal programs. The grand power of the United States hinges on a competitive, free market economy in order to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Compassionate conservatism works in the best interests for those struggling in America. The more we become dependent on the federal government, the more we frustrate our individual liberties. Instead of the Democrat-style of compassion shown through government handouts we must create an environment that inspires communities and individuals to take advantage of opportunities to improve their condition. Individuals have the power to change, and government can help them lead better lives.

I recognized government was not the answer to every problem.

I have found that conservative Republican policies lead to greater liberties, freedom, and prosperity – policies like lower taxes, less bureaucracy, stronger national security, greater enforcement of criminal law, vigilance against terrorism, and free market competition in health care and other compassionate programs.

Republicans are also best suited to maintain the balance of power between the three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. Conservative Presidents and Governors nominate, and conservative Senators confirm, good, honest judges who interpret the laws and who do not act like super-legislators from the bench.

The Republican Party is the only party that stands for these true principles. In every way I am glad that I made the switch as a young man to become a conservative Republican.


Jo Ann Emerson
United States Representative
Cape Girardeau, Missouri


Republicans come from many backgrounds, but we are united by our desires for responsible leadership, principled but limited government, a belief in free markets, and respect for the rights of the individual.

These commonalities create a Republican philosophy which can be applied to solve any policy problem, or to argue that any problem should be exempted from a governmental solution. No matter our reasons for becoming Republicans, we are charged with expanding a common sense view of public policy to ensure the future health of our nation, as well as our party.

Today, the Republican imperative is to be problem-solvers in a nation where the short-term solution often comes at the expense of personal or constitutional freedoms, in the form of higher taxes, and with a necessary prescription for bigger government.  Taking the long view is never so easy, but it does pay dividends (especially in terms of our national security and economy) to Americans intent on getting to the heart of big problems.

No matter our reasons for becoming Republicans, we are charged with expanding a common sense view of public policy…

Immigration is certainly a case in point.  Proposals of amnesty would certainly reduce the number of illegal aliens in America on paper for the short-term.  But providing a tremendous incentive for future illegal immigration is sure to create more problems than can be solved with citizenship for lawbreakers.  Health care is another example.  A heavily-regulated market economy is not today meeting the goals of Americans who eschew insurance and preventative care at the risk of relying on emergency room medicine and Medicaid.

The conservative approach to immigration hinges on capable enforcement of U.S. laws and assessments of the need for specialized workers’ visas.  Health care and entitlement spending, on the other hand, require us to balance fiscal concerns with moral ones in a far more complicated analysis.  But access to affordable health care, unlike free passage to America for illegal immigrants, has become a valued and important right to the American people in this day and age.

To succeed in national politics today, Republicans must return to the foundation of our philosophy: sound tax policy and balanced budgets, a strong national defense, robust diplomacy and a focus on the ever-evolving rights of individuals.

The new twist is that we must earnestly apply these principles to new policy problems for the 21st Century, problems like health care, energy independence, and even the environment.


Chuck Norris
Actor, author, and businessman
Tarzana, California


There are several reasons why I am Republican.

First and foremost, I believe it is people — not government — that are granted power by God to make a difference in the world.  And as such we should seek in society to maximize the role of people and minimize the role of government.  As the Declaration of Independence declares, “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed.”  Or as our Constitution begins, “We the people of the United States…”

Second, I believe free enterprise and a free market create the basis for the expansion of capitalism, which produces jobs, goods, competition, income, etc.  Government should promote not restrict or control these economic freedoms, as the Republican platform espouses. We should encourage financial independence from, not financial dependency upon, governmental aid.

Third, I believe in defending our freedoms and property, personally and nationally.  Thomas Jefferson put it well, “For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.”  From the Second Amendment to our military forces, Republicanism seeks to defend what we establish and possess.

I believe free enterprise and a free market create the basis for the expansion of Capitalism…

Fourth, I believe in protecting the right to life. Again, the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  I believe those rights extend to the unborn, represented in the traditional pro-life stand of the Republican Party.

In addition to these four reasons, I also believe the Republican party puts better emphasis and more resources into fighting crime and illegal drugs, encouraging educational reform and options, providing energy independence, restricting illegal immigration, assuring health care, limiting taxes, and esteeming traditional marriage and family values.

In short, what I believe and value has led me to register and remain Republican.

That is a part of why I choose to be a Republican.


Lynn Swann
Businessman, Hall of Fame wide receiver
Sewickley, Pennsylvania 


Why am I a Republican?

The “why” part of this question is something we should ask ourselves about everything we do, think, and believe.

Being a Republican is something that comes easy to me, because the Republican Party represents the values and ideals I identify with.  Because of these values, I am free to choose to be a Republican.  So who am I that the Republican Party fits me better than the alternatives?

I am a Christian who believes in the right to say “Under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance or have a prayer in school, but my party respects the right to not have to say that prayer or to face East at the appropriate time to pray to Allah if that is your belief.  My party is committed to helping the poor, while at the same time encouraging all Americans to do more without punishing them with higher taxes and excessive regulations.

Our government should provide a framework and a safety net for how we live in a free society and provide protection for the people that live here. As a nation, we should protect and strengthen our Constitution.  The foundation, for our nation to advance, is education, integrity and selflessness.  These are a part of my core beliefs, and the Republican Party fits my position better than the other political parties.

I do not take the positions that my party is perfect or without fault in its history or platforms.

As a Black American, the history of support from the beginning of the Republican Party — from Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas — has been without political peer. From slavery to civil rights to the most important political appointments, the deeds of the Republican Party outweigh the rhetoric of the Democrats.

I do not take the position that my party is perfect or without fault in its history or platforms.  What is most important is the party listens and evolves to continue to represent the needs and thinking of the people of the United States of America.

With that in mind, my voice within the Republican Party can be heard and be an agent for productive change.

That is a part of why I choose to be a Republican.


Heidi Gansert
Minority Leader,
Nevada State Assembly
Reno, Nevada 


When the question was posed “Why I became a Republican,” I can tell you that I never considered being anything but a Republican.

When I first checked the box to register to vote, there was no hesitation.  My innate nature is one of self-reliance and personal responsibility which, in my opinion, are fundamental to a Republican.

When I analyze how I evolved to where I am in a political sense, my desires to help my community, participate in discussions involving what is suitable for my state, and how Nevada can be the greatest place to live, are the reasons I ran for office.  What overlies these desires is a recognition that self-reliance, a sound education, and plain hard work can get you anywhere in our great country.

Freedom can only exist in states and nations where self-reliance and responsibility are taken on by individuals.

As a relative newcomer to politics, I have never viewed myself as a “politician” as that conjures up negative connotations for many.  I am a community member who has chosen a high level of civic involvement. I am a Republican because I believe all individuals can accomplish great things.  I am also a Republican because I support the freedom provided by our country.

Freedom can only exist in states and nations where self-reliance and responsibility are taken on by individuals.  I am thankful everyday that I live in this country where nothing is impossible and everything is possible.


Frank Guinta
Mayor of Manchester,
New Hampshire 


To answer the question, “why I am a Republican,” I go back to Ronald Reagan and the incredible legacy he left for America.

I am 37 years old, so my formative years were during Reagan’s time in office. It was his influence that helped develop my political beliefs and my approach toward public service.

He was someone that had that rare ability to talk tough to the most powerful figures of his era while being able to communicate to the common person.  He understood that government helped people the most when it let them be entrepreneurs and pioneers, not wards of the state.  He knew that challenging – not appeasing – tyrants benefited America and the rest of the free world.  But most importantly, Reagan loved America and what it stood for: rugged individualism, a commitment to freedom here and abroad, and limited government.

To answer the questions, “Why I am a Republican,” I go back to Ronald Reagan and the incredible legacy he left for America.

In my role as Mayor of Manchester, I have developed a similar governing style.  In my first term, my top priority was to provide residents with tax relief and responsible budgets while enhancing public safety, lowering crime in the city and improving the city’s educational system. Because the city’s 14-member Board of Aldermen consists of 11 Democrats, I often have to work with them to forge important policy initiatives.  However, I always kept my principles intact and was still able to pass most of my agenda in my first term.

As I embark on a second term, I will continue to highlight the issues that we Republicans support: fiscal responsibility; the right to live safe from crime; an education system that doesn’t fail our children and limited government that rewards, not punishes, entrepreneurship.

This is the path I have forged and one I plan to stay true to in the coming years.