NASHVILLE — Southern Republicans, gathered here for one of the largest party conferences in their history, were warned Friday by host Gov. Lamar Alexander that they need to spend less time talking about national issues and more time dealing with local problems.
In greeting about 1,400 local GOP activists from 13 Southern states, and in similar remarks later at a press conference, the Tennessee governor chided Republicans from this region for focusing on what he called "Washington issues"--foreign policy, the federal budget and welfare. This tendency, Alexander said, is keeping Republicans in Dixie from taking full advantage of the popularity of their national party in this region.
"Whenever Republicans get together, they always talk about Washington issues," said Alexander, who this year is finishing his second four-year term as governor. "As a result, they don't elect many people in state and local races."
Democrats 'Get Elected'
National issues are "tremendously important and so fascinating," Alexander said. "But when we get together that's all we talk about, and the Democratic governors are running down the street proposing programs to improve the schools, clean up the garbage, fix the roads and make the children more healthy--and they get elected."