02/15/2013 10:46 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

GOP Tries to Recover in Bush-Obama America

2013-02-15-BushObama.jpg Republicans in swing counties are struggling to recover. Many closely watched the President's State of the Union and the responses, searching for something to use in their battle to stave off the predictions of the doom in the GOP future most recently cited in The New Republic and commonly voiced in the land of punditry. We are travelling back in the Bush-Obama counties to see how the partisan battle lines are forming for 2014 and 2016. We begin in Ottawa. Since 1948, not one presidential candidate has won the White House without winning the Northwest Ohio, Bush-Obama county. We interviewed Joel Mann, Co-Founder of the Ottawa County Young Republicans.

How do you think the Republican party can recover right now? It seems like it's a little tough these days, particularly with the Hispanic vote. It was what -- 70 percent for Obama? It seems like putting a guy like Marco Rubio on the ticket is an attempt to cull the Latino vote. What do you think about that?

Well, I think you're pretty on with that assessment. The thing is, he's one of the only ones in the Republican party that's really speaking out against Obama and the administration. I think because he's younger, he doesn't have the Washington influence and the lobbyists buying him yet. So he has a little bit more flexibility, and I think that's why he's out there in the front right now.

I think the majority of the GOP right now, there's too many establishment Republicans that have been there for way too long. A lot of them are no different from the Democrats, and so that's why nothing is happening. And that's why I'm a firm believer of term limits, and we need term limits to kick them out after a couple years. Because no matter who goes there, with whatever intentions they have, when you're there stuck in that environment for a few years, it doesn't matter what side you're on. You're now stuck in a corrupt system, and that's the problem we're facing.

Do you think Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are going to be effective in recapturing the Republican Party?

It's interesting you mention Rand Paul, those two right there are the two I would love to see on the ticket. Both of them will grab the majority of Republicans and definitely re-energize the party, more than what Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney did. I liked them, but I wasn't excited about them. That is what almost everybody was saying. It wasn't as bad as with McCain, where there wasn't much excitement at all, but I guess last time, it wasn't energized. The base was just not energized enough, and that's why we lost.

Rand Paul and Marco Rubio will hopefully do a good job of attracting their base. What about winning over Democrats or the undecided? Particularly since many people are dissatisfied with Obama.

The biggest thing that the Republican party needs to capitalize on is media, especially Facebook -- just get better at communication. I don't know which Democrat or who started it, but blaming everything on Bush -- it sounds silly, and it's funny -- but it's effective, and it has worked. One of the marketing things that has really helped with the Democrats is just getting that whole idea that it's just Bush's fault. And Bush is a Republican. It's something so simple and so easy that the Democrats have just run with it, and everybody believes it now, that it was all Bush's fault. And now that it's been a few years since Bush has been president, you look back at those times, and it wasn't nearly, nearly as bad as what it is now. The economy wasn't as bad. Yeah, we were in a few wars, but we're still there. It's something that the Republicans need to do, something that simple, to get the message across that, hey, Obama's wrong. How do we convince these people that Obama's wrong, especially when most of them are so delusional that they're not even willing to look into other possibilities -- either they're Democrats, or because he's a liberal, or, I hate to say this, but just because he's black. I mean, it's sad. That that's the way people vote. They don't look at the character or the person as an individual to be president.

You mentioned "delusional." That's a very interesting term, particularly when it comes to gun control. Do you think, in your county, where people hear "assault weapon," do they associate that with submachine guns that can fire 30 rounds a second, or do they associate that with hunting rifles, that may just look like them? Do you think people have a grasp on the terminology being used in this ban?

In Ottawa County, we're rural country people. We understand the terminology. It might be different as you get closer to the metro areas and the cities, but arms are mostly understood out here.

It's interesting how many people across the board are saying we need to completely eliminate assault weapons, and they're not talking about assault weapons at all. They're talking about something quite different. How is it that people can form such strong opinions about something they don't understand? Why is there so much mystery surrounding something like terminology?

That's a question I've been asking for the last six years. Why don't people understand something like the constitution? Why don't people understand term limits, government antennas? Why don't people understand the difference between federal and state? It's all right there and I blame it on the failure of our public school systems because they don't teach it. The only way for someone to find out about it is to go online and learn it themselves. Because the public school systems just fail. I don't believe that that's by mistake -- I think that's intentional. Someone or some group does not want the American population to understand these things. With guns, they want people to be uneducated on them so they go and vote the way they want it, and they can pretty much ban all weapons so that we the people are pretty much powerless against them. I don't want to sound like a crazy lunatic, but quite honestly the more and more I see what government is doing, the more I see that America is not the free country and even nation that we were ten years ago.

You can't blame it all on the Democrats or Bush -- it's all of us, and "we the people" have let it happen. That's what more and more people around here are saying. They're asking "What is going on?" "What's going on in Washington?" "What's going on in Ohio, what's going on in Columbus?" More and more people are waking up and saying, "What's really going on here?" We now have an administration and president that have made it a little easier for people to say "Oh, something is going wrong." The last few administrations have hid it pretty well, and now all of a sudden we have an administration that is pushing more socialism, more government control and takeover. It's easier to notice than in previous administrations. We notice it.