Return to Pre-1994 Attitude, Former GOP Chairman Says

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Yet another conservative leader is calling on Republicans to focus on conservative principles in the wake of the party's loss of the U.S. House and Senate in the midterm elections.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour called on conservatives Friday to return to the attitude they had before the Republican takeover of 1994.

Barbour took over leadership of the Republican National Committee in 1993 and oversaw the conservative reclaiming of the House and Senate in the 1994 midterm elections. In a speech to a group of conservative lawyers in Washington, D.C., he expressed optimism that the performance could be repeated.

"The American people hadn't changed their minds about conservative policies," he told the annual Federalist Society meeting. "The American people had changed their minds about us."

While he attributed the losses to Americans' attitude toward Republican leadership, Barbour also called the midterm "an average election." Republicans have always lost seats in Congress in the second midterm election of a two-term GOP presidency, he said.

"We were ripe for a bad election," Barbour said, adding that "scandal and spending" had most seriously damaged Republican incumbents.

Barbour joined fellow Republicans like House Majority Whip Roy Blunt and Arizona Sen. John McCain in urging Republicans to return to conservative principles and policies, adding that "the results will be great because these policies work."

"If we will stand by the right policies, I promise you the Democrats will hang themselves," Barbour said.

If Republicans offer conservative policies in 2008 - like the Contract with America the party pushed in 1994 - they will regain control, he predicted.

"Usually in American politics you've got to give the American people something to vote for," Barbour said.

Asked about his future in politics, Barbour said he would run for re-election as Mississippi governor in 2007 but did not anticipate that he would ever run for the U.S. Senate.

He has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 but did not address that rumor.

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