Republican presidential candidates are being discouraged from bashing Obama—one of their favorite targets—at at a conservative summit in August.
Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of the conservative website hosting the RedState Gathering, has made what may seem like an odd request of GOP hopefuls who will participate in the August 6-9 presidential forum held in Atlanta, Georgia: lay off the anti-Obama rhetoric.
"We do not need Obama bashing," Erickson said in a post on RedState. "We need to know what they would do differently and how they would shape the nation. They should be elected not on their ability to bash the opposition, but their ability to sell a vision for the future that resonances with the base and the nation as a whole. We do not, right now, need a 50 point plan. We need to know what they see as the areas that need fixing and how their fixes will reshape the country."
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Hewett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are all scheduled to speak at the event, with Bush even opting to attend it in favor of the Iowa Straw Poll. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul have also been invited, but have yet to confirm. It also remains to be seen whether that group will be able to keep itself from indulging what has become a GOP article of faith, framing nearly each and every issue in terms of their own opposition to the way Obama has governed.
Some political observers, like National Journal's Ron Fournier, are already applauding Erickson's idea.
"It's a great concept—and organizers of the general election debates should steal it," Fournier wrote in a post on Tuesday. "Force presidential candidates to dispense with their button-pushing talking points and face the challenges of 2020 and beyond. Put them on record with first- and second-term promises. Challenge them to think through and articulate the multiple stages of problem-solving. Make them publicly grapple with tensions between short-term gains and long-term needs. Encourage them to describe their theories on leadership and management."
Of course, Erickson made no similar request about the GOP's second-favorite target, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.