Think Out Loud

Oregon's Lone Republican Congressman Says Party's Core Principles Remain The Same

By Dave Miller (OPB) and Julie Sabatier (OPB)
Cleveland July 20, 2016 6:07 p.m.
Rep. Greg Walden at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Rep. Greg Walden at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Julie Sabatier/OPB


Congressman Greg Walden is Oregon's only Republican member of the state congressional delegation, but he's making his voice heard.

He is using the Republican National Convention to remind voters of another important election coming up. This November, congressional representatives will be up for election and it is Walden's job as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee to maintain Republican majority in the House.

Despite Trump's polarizing campaign, Walden predicted that the congressional race will stay in the Republicans' favor. Here are a few of his observations about the state of politics in the U.S.

On The Last Eight Years:

Donald Trump's slogan of "Make America Great Again" speaks to Republicans who feel that the country has weakened under a Democratic presidency.

"Under Barack Obama there are a lot of us who feel that we've had a setback," Walden said. "Name me a place in the world that is safer and more secure and that America's more respected than it was eight years ago. This world has come apart from Clinton/Obama foreign policy. You can't lead from behind."

According to Walden, the world needs to see the U.S. as a strong, decisive leader.


On House Bipartisanship: 

"Americans, despite their hard held opinions on both sides, still want us to govern and to get things done," Walden said. And even though the language of both parties drift further apart, "The record is better than the rhetoric over the last year."

Walden pointed to a fully funded highway bill, education and mental health reform as examples of successful bipartisanship. He attributed unity in Congress to constituents.

"This stuff matters at home," he said. Highway potholes and mental illness affect Republicans as much as Democrats. These issues "transcend party politics, and people expect us to get the job done."

On Expanding The Party:

"Our language matters," Walden said. "We always have to be careful to not offend people. There's no reason to do that. You don't grow the party by marginalizing people and telling them you're unwelcome."

Walden said that he has only met with Trump once for a "very frank" conversation.

On The Future Of The GOP:

Donald Trump's popularity demonstrates a shift in Republican ideals, but the heart of the party has not changed, according to Walden.

"Parties are temporarily defined by their nominees," Walden said, "but at the core of it, having been around these campaigns as much I have these last eight years, it's much more localized than that."

Issues may fluctuate over time, "but the overall core principles remain the same."

Those principles include individual responsibility, deregulation, and strong trade agreements.