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On Saturday, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin addressed CPAC, and according to at least one observer, was the best speaker of the conference. After he finished, he agreed to address a small gathering of bloggers to expand on the points he made in his speech.
Of his main speech, Solomon Yue, Oregon RNC National Committeeman, said,
Low expectations when he began his speech and what he did with his message about what he as governor did to empower people. He was the populist backed up with constitutional principles.
Expanding on these constitutional principles, Gov. Walker spoke of strategy and messaging in his blogger briefing. He had three main themes that he wanted to drive home.
1. The states are where the GOP has had great success, despite losses on the national stage in the 2012 elections. Governors and state houses are often dominated by Republicans, and these states have laid the groundwork for real reform. We need to be optimistic that we can create real change. Voters want us to present new ideas to confront the challenges we face. We need to have a plan, and we need to be optimistic that it can be implemented and that it will improve the lives of the voters on an individual basis.
2. Trust the voters to be able to handle the tough issues - don't shy away from taking them on. The voters are smarter than many on The Hill give them credit for. Voters spend little time watching the state houses and the capitol as they live their lives, but they do care deeply about the issues and potential solutions. Speak to voters directly about the issues and trust them to understand the solution you offer. Walker rejects out of hand the idea that there are voters we simply can't reach as Conservatives. We must simply find ways to speak to each individual in the way that it is relevant to their lives.
3. Be courageous. For instance, don't talk about entitlement reform. Talk about moving people from government dependence to true independence. He challenges the notion that we don't care about the poor. He makes the strong point that we obviously care deeply about those who are temporarily down and out, and want to help them get out of poverty. The American dream is not based on dependence, it's based on independence. As conservatives, we should not apologize for that - we should get better at explaining why that's relevant to the life of each individual we talk to.
Check out the whole address - it's full of very useful insights into how Conservatives can and should connect with voters on an individual basis:
Follow Jeff on Twitter at @ChargerJeff