Hugh Hewitt Talks Politics, Outlines Strategy for GOP

Hugh Hewitt discussed his new book, “Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority,” and debated the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes along with Democratic strategist Bob Beckel at the Heritage Foundation today.

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Hewitt was self-deprecating, saying that everyone on the panel, as well as those in the audience, knew more than he did, joking that he “doesn’t want to talk about anything with this audience.”

Hewitt said Democrats can win big in this November’s elections, and if they do, he said, the war in Iraq will most certainly be lost. This will be as devastating to the country as Vietnam was, he said.

Hewitt believes it is possible for Republicans to win in many states, but only if they stay on message. They need to rely on the President’s trustworthiness, and that “he does what he says.” This is the greatest advantage Republicans will have, Hewitt said.

Hewitt’s strategy for the GOP, as explained in his new book, is to win the war, control government spending, cut taxes and confirm judges. He said Congress hasn’t done that even with Republican holding the majority. In fact, “Congress does nothing,” he said.

Barnes recommended the book to everyone, although he disagreed with parts of it. Barnes said Hewitt got the message across that Republicans now know they can lose many seats.

However, Barnes said the U.S. is winning the war, and that everyone he talks to who comes home from Iraq says that. Republicans did cut the taxes, and Bush did appoint two conservative judges to the Supreme Court. As far as spending, Barnes said, “no one controls the spending.”

Barnes likened Bush to former President Ronald Reagan and said they both didn’t fall into the “deficit trap,” which would weaken the economy, result in higher taxes and lose the party base. Overall, Republicans run better campaigns than Democrats do, and Barnes appeared much more positive about the ’06 elections than Hewitt.

Beckel criticized many things in Hewitt’s book. Today he said the increase of independent voting is probably the most important happening in politics today. The trends are that the parties are becoming less and less important. He said values and culture play a valuable roll in politics but that the use of the Bible and religion for party politics is to “demean the kingdom.”

Beckel said the immigration debate is a very dangerous for conservatives, and that the Democrats are sitting back for now. He proceeded to mock the Minutemen and said the conservatives “brought this debate upon themselves.” Beckel said Republicans have already lost it.

When I asked Beckel about the Democrats’ position on immigration, since he seemed content to only bash the GOP on this national debate, he said he is tired of being asked “what is your position,” and his answer was that the Democratic platform equates to “what Bush is for, we are against.” He said, “We are the party of opposition,” and then proceeded to list all the things Democrats are against.

Hewitt’s book, “Painting the Map Red,” is published by Regnery Publishing (a sister company to HUMAN EVENTS), and is available from