January 12th, 2009
10:09 AM ET
6 years ago

Bush gives prescription to GOP

Bush said Monday Republicans must broaden their appeal.
Bush said Monday Republicans must broaden their appeal.

(CNN) - Reflecting on a brutal election cycle that saw his party lose the White House and several seats in Congress, President Bush warned the GOP to avoid instituting an ideological “litmus test.”

"I am concerned that in the wake of the defeat, that the temptation will be to look inward, and to say, 'Well, here is a litmus test you must adhere to," Bush said in his last press conference as president. "This party will come back. But the party's message has got to be that different points of view are included in the party."

The president specifically cited the at-times heated debate over illegal immigration, and said Republicans appeared as if they "don't like immigrants."

"If the image is we don't like immigrants, then there is probably somebody else out there saying, 'Well, if they don't like immigrants, they probably don't like me as well,'" Bush said. "Our party has got to be compassionate and broad-minded."


Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. Baze

    Here's my prescription to the G.O.P. Just keep quiet and let the Dems ruin themselves. It's inevitable that every party wears out its welcome.

    January 12, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Jim in Bisbee

    The GOP has to change to get back in power, but having co-opted the Radical Religious Right as their mascot, they can't possibly change because their religious ideologies are immutable. They're stuck, and I'm glad for it on one side – they probably won't come back as strong as they were; and sorry for it on another side – if they do somehow come back, they'll be stronger and more virulent than ever.

    January 12, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. boered1

    he is right (but not far enough for some in his party) the fact is that the republicans MUST understand they do not live in the mythic 50s of their minds or the (vaim)glorious 80s (the "me" generation) of reagan, the world has moved on and it is time that we as a country move on. I respect the republican ideals of gun rights and a fiscally responsible government. I even find myself agreeing with them on some of the individual rights ideals I do find my self differing with them on the idea that smaller government is better government and that if we just let the market run without controls everything will be fine. I believe government needs to protect the people, not just from foreign invaders and internal terrorist but also from corporations that care more for the bottom line than the individuals at the bottom. i feel that a government, that wants to protect its people, will ensure that its people have the minimum required to sustain life, some financial security, social security and some self respect that without these things people get angry, they resent the government and they cause more problems. Therefore, in my mind, welfare, social security, medicare, education and alot of our social programs are PART of our security and must be maintained. I deeply disagree with the republicans attempt to tie religion to politics and to say that if I do not vote republican than I am somehow not a christian or "American" enough (never mind my 21 years in the service!). I do not think I am alone in these thoughts and if the republican party were to understand that they could return stronger if they continue to follow the radical religious rightwing they will find themselves alone with their memories of when they had power....

    January 12, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. BW

    Here you go Liberals...time to get it all out of your system...flaunt your hate and sub-human intellect...Bush is almost gone. Guess what? Your Messiah is almost here and everything will be perfect. Let's see how "honest' your comments are then. Obama isn't even in office yet, and he's flip-flopping on his "change for America" plan already. Funny part is, some of you liberals have even mentioned it here on CNN. Prepare...it's your turn now!

    January 12, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. david Armendale, SF, CA

    Hearing Bush admit a mistake is like a listening to a guy apologize for not calling 911 fast enough after shooting somebody in the head. And oh, also, it was not his fault that he shot some guy in the head. It was bad intel.

    January 12, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  6. dennis-ohio

    Angie-Ohio:

    Feel better now ? Nice to see our state represented by such a fine example as you. Idiot.

    January 12, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. Anne Prevost

    If I were a Republican, I would NOT be taking dubya's advice but telling him to drag his a-s back to Texas, never to be seen again!

    January 12, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Blue is my favourite colour

    Bush's advice to the republican party will likely fall on deaf ears. They still would have lost. George W. destroyed the party, and John McCain did nothing to change its direction either–another opportunity lost. The illness in the GOP will likely linger for many more years–and they will still continue to not learn from their mistakes, which makes the Dems look pretty good–even with Pelosi and Reid.

    January 12, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Jay

    This is coming from someone who was one of the most ideological presidents in our history. If President Lincoln were around to see his party today he would be shocked. What the Republican's need to do is find a way to reach the independents like myself. People who believe in a strong military used only in defense, Helping our neighbors and allies, Diplomacy first and the useage of force second. Helping the poor, the lame, and the lost, and most importantly balancing our budget. These are the people that win elections

    January 12, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. david Armendale, SF, CA

    Bush pointed out that Republicans regained power in 1964.
    That's right!
    After LBJ admittedly conceded the South to the bigots by signing into law the Civil Rights Act.
    YEA inclusionary politics!

    January 12, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    PRESIDENT BUSH,

    PLEASE SAY A PRAYER FOR OUR COUNTRY!!!!!!!!

    ALLOT OF AMERICANS (OBAMA SUPPORTERS) BLAME PRESIDENT BUSH FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY AND WILL CONTINUE TO BLAME PRESIDENT BUSH FOR YEARS TO COME.

    THE FACTS ARE THE ECONOMY GOES UP AND DOWN IN CYCLES AND MOST AMERICANS LIVE OVER THERE BUDGET!!!

    FRAUD IS ANOTHER PROBLEM WHICH NEEDS TO BE HANDLED!!
    UNTIL THE CROOKS ARE PUT IN PRISON IN THIS COUNTRY CRIME WILL PAY VERY WELL!!!!!!

    THE HUISSAIN OBAMA SUPPORTERS WILL BLAME BUSH FOR EVERYTHING NO MATTER WHAT OBAMA DOES WRONG AND THATS REALLY A SHAME.

    THANK YOU PRESIDENT BUSH FOR KEEPING OUR COUNTRY SAFE AND ENJOY YOUR RETIREMENT YOU DESERVE IT!!

    January 12, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Former Republican

    Just go away quietly.

    January 12, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. Larry

    President Bush,

    You are looking better,and better,daily-–So far the Democrats have achieved to do nothing but INCREASE the problems that you may have started,I have never been thrilled by your SPENDING,but now it looks like the Democrats are going to completely destroy the economy with their outrageous approach to fixing the problems with the economy.If the government had not gotten involved in the first place,we wouldn't be having this situation.

    People ,anybody that will listen to some common since:We can not borrow are way out of debt.(or just print money,either)

    January 12, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. Post Closer

    We dont want illegal immigrants you moron.That means NO line jumpers.People have been waiting for years in line.I dont like when someone tries to jump in line anywhere,does anyone else agree?

    January 12, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. Terry

    John wrote: "isnt it ironic how many poeple dont realize that if it hadnt been for the GOP the south would still be in the slave trade buissness. However, the civil war would have never happened either, so I guess it depends on your knowlege of History."

    John speaks with forked tongue. It is true that Lincoln was a Republican and that supporters of slavery were Southern Democrats. HOWEVER, after Lyndon Johnson rammed the Civil Rights act of 1964 and a variety of other progressive reforms that we now take for granted (equal opportunity, equal pay, minority voting rights, etc.), the Republican Party became the party of segregation and states' rights. Richard Nixon invented the "Southern Strategy." He spoke to the South in code: "states' rights" meant "segregation," etc. Reagan copied the Nixon strategy. Segregationists allied themselves with corporatists and libertarian-dingbats to form a majority.

    There is NO relationship between the Republican Party of 1865 and the Republican Party of 2008.

    John either doesn't know his history or he's conning us.

    January 12, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. Stacy from Leesburg VA

    I think this country would benefit greatly by throwing out the entrenched partisans on both sides of the aisle. The GOP got lost during the Bush years because it believed that hyper-divisive policy would ensure political success and that true fiscal conservatism was something they could talk about but exercise. Now with the Democrats back in charge, I warn them that hyper-divisive policies and pork-laden spending (non-stimulus spending) will be their downfall. No earmarks on Obama’s plan will be a fantastic first start and if Reid and Pelosi don’t like that, too darn bad!

    January 12, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  17. Leonard Thibeau

    Enough said .lets hold hands and let Obama have an honest opportunity to lead us back on a straight course.

    January 12, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    Avoid ideological “litmus tests?” Let's see...

    Directly from the RNC platform:

    "We support a human life amendment to the Constitution,..."

    "We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values..."

    "...we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman..."

    "We affirm every citizen’s right to apply religious values to public policy..."

    And on and on. Looks to me like a long list of litmus tests–the bigoted bible-thumpers are still very much in charge of the GOP.

    January 12, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. SE NM

    "protect us?" Jefferson said "those who choose security over freedom deserve neither". Words that are not important to the current administraion or Jan.

    January 12, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  20. Lyndon from CA

    Mr. Bush is a hypocrit who should be prosecuted for war crimes. He was the leader of the GOP for eight years and the buck never ever stopped at his desk during that time......and you know what, it still hasn't.

    January 12, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  21. Lyndon from CA

    Mr. Bush is a hypocrit who should be prosecuted for war crimes. He was the leader of the GOP for eight years and the buck never ever stopped at his desk during that time......and you know what, it still hasn't.

    January 12, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  22. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    I'm a Democrat, but I don't want the GOP to go away. We need to have an opposing side.

    Let's face it. The Democrats aren't always right, and the Republicans aren't always wrong. We need both parties so we can pick and choose the best from both. That's how we solve real problems.

    Besides: Do you really want a one-party democracy?

    January 12, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  23. Katie in Pennsylvania

    Maggie from Virginia-Lincoln was the first GOP President. The party was founded in 1854, from the remains of the Free Soil Party.

    January 12, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. Steve

    Maggie from Virginia January 12th, 2009 12:39 pm ET

    John – The GOP wasn't formed until after the civil war. Also, the majority of blacks were republicans before they joined the democratic party. The republican party is not what it once was.

    MAGGIE
    LINCOLN RAN TWICE UNDER THE GOP.

    January 12, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  25. Objective thinking

    Maggie from Virginia: If you think the GOP wasn't formed until after the Civil War, then please tell us what party you think Abraham Lincoln belonged to?

    January 12, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
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