Rep. Raul Labrador is a second-term Republican representing Idaho's 1st Congressional District who in just a few years extended his reach and influence far beyond Gem State borders with efforts to make the GOP attractive to a new generation of voters.
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I hear you talk about the need for a new brand of conservatism. What do you mean by that?
LABRADOR: I think there is a new group of young Republicans. We used to talk about the three legs of the stool. I think there is a fourth leg, which has a libertarian strand. It doesn't mean we do away with social issues, or shy away from them. But we have to find a way to coexist with people who are mostly interested in those issues. If you do away with any of the legs of that stool, you get rid of an entire coalition. We are concerned about fiscal matters and about civil liberties issues.
EXAMINER: So the GOP doesn't currently have that fourth leg?
LABRADOR: They don't. They don't. And that's why I think we keep losing elections. When somebody can come out and fully articulate how to get those four legs to work together, I think that is when you are going to see the GOP in ascendency.
EXAMINER: What does GOP leadership think of the idea?
LABRADOR: We've talked a little bit about that. I think they realize if we are going to reach out to younger voters, that we have to take on some of these issues of privacy and liberty. Young voters tend to be more conservative, but they think we don't care about these civil liberties issues so they end up going to a party that I don't think comports with their understanding of what fiscal policy should be.
EXAMINER: Those sound like the issues that helped elect Sen. Rand Paul.
LABRADOR: I think Rand is a perfect example of what could be the future of the party. I'm not sure he's going to be the [presidential] nominee, but somebody like Rand, who can talk about these issues and not appear to be kooky, or appear to be out of the mainstream.
EXAMINER: Any thoughts on running for governor of Idaho?
LABRADOR: No thoughts (laughs). I'm just not going to share them.
EXAMINER: When will you share them?
LABRADOR: In the next couple of months.
EXAMINER: Would you ever run for president?
LABRADOR: I have no interest. No interest. I can tell you that much about my political future.
EXAMINER: What should the GOP do about immigration reform?
LABRADOR: In general, what we need to do is make sure we have legislation that fixes the problem of illegal immigration first and that we have hard triggers that say we must have certain border enforcement mechanisms in place. We need to comply with the laws that have already passed. If conservatives felt the law is being followed and that this administration and any future administration is going to comply with the law, they would be much more open to doing something with the 11 million people that are already here [illegally]. But any aspect or any plan to do legalization first, with the promise of enforcement in the future, is not going to pass the House of Representatives.
EXAMINER: With the August recess approaching, is Congress running out of time to pass an immigration bill?
LABRADOR: We have all the time in the world. I think it can happen this year, but it doesn't have to happen this year. If it doesn't happen this year, it won't happen next year because of the election. But it could happen in 2015. This is not even a top 10 issue for most people. So it's not something that must happen. I think it should happen, because we have a broken immigration system and if we want to have future growth in the United States we need to have an immigration system that allows for that future growth.
EXAMINER: How can the GOP recapture Hispanic support?
LABRADOR: I think it's a mistake to assume we are losing Hispanic support because of [immigration reform]. We are losing Hispanic support because we are not reaching out to Hispanic communities. What I know about Hispanic people is that they don't want to be pandered to, but they do want to be recognized, they want to be acknowledged and they want to be worked with. I actually think it's offensive when people assume that an Hispanic is going to vote for you just because you voted for immigration reform. That actually categorizes the Hispanic community as a one-issue community, and it is not.