Labrador: For Republicans, Just Being Against Obama Won't Win Elections

By Barbara Boland | January 16, 2014 | 11:19 AM EST

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) (AP File Photo)

( - Republicans must unify around a "vision" for the nation's future, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) told a gathering of conservative legislators at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.

"Who has a vision for the future of America? That’s really going to be the internal struggle of the Republican party. Are we just going to be the party that says, ‘Hey, the other side is worse than we are?’ Or are we going to show why our side is actually better for the American people?

“Are we going to stand with people and stop standing with big business? And I think that’s going to be the internal struggle that you will see over the next year. And whichever side is victorious in that struggle -- if it’s the pro-big business side, then you will see once again, electoral defeat for the Republican party.”

Labrador's comments came in response to a question about the $1.1 trillion spending bill the House voted on -- and passed -- later that day.

"I find it fascinating that the bill violates the pledge to America that Republicans made three years ago. I find it fascinating that we complain about big bills when it’s the Democrats that are in charge of Congress, but we love big bills when we’re in charge of Congress. And what we always tend to tell the American people is that we can manage the chaos a little bit better than the other side can manage the chaos.

“And I think that is why we have a 10 percent approval rating. We seem to make promises to our constituents back home but we come here and violate those promises to the American people. That’s what’s of concern to me."

While the "die has been cast" on budget fights, Labrador said the next fight will revolve around "vision."

“Republicans right now think that all we have to do is talk about how bad the Obama economy is and how bad Obamacare is, and we’re going to win in 2014. The reality is, we did that in 2012, we talked about how bad the economy was, and we lost the presidency and we lost the Senate, and we lost the House, if you look at the number of people who voted for the House.

"So just being against Obama is not a vision for winning electoral victories in the future. But being for something, letting the American people know what we’re for, and I think what this group will hopefully be doing, what conservatives in the house will be doing, will be providing the vision that America will get behind for 2014. If we cannot win in 2014 the Senate, we cannot win in 2016 the White House.”