Republicans shift away from Trump, refocus the GOP


Courtesy/Kathryn Williams

Lt. Govenor Geoff Duncan of Georgia talks about his book “GOP 2.0” at the NHIOP

Kathryn Williams, Editor-In-Chief

The welcome of Lieutenant Governor of Georgia and author of “GOP 2.0,” Geoff Duncan, marked the first successful in-person, open to the public event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. After the chaos that erupted from an anti-vaxx protest that cancelled Governor Sununu’s appearance earlier this month, a crowd arrived at the NHIOP ready to hear about a new way forward for the Republican Party, known as GOP 2.0.

What is GOP 2.0? It is a call to reform the Republican Party, transitioning away from President Trump and focusing on policy over politics, with an emphasis on the PET project. Duncan explained how PET stands for policy, empathy, and tone, which are three important goals for the GOP 2.0 movement. Focusing on Conservative policies to move the nation forward, being empathetic towards others, and using a tone for unity rather than division. Lt Governor Duncan used the example of sitting down at a table with a single mother working multiple jobs to explain what empathy is. “It’s not asking her to vote for you, it’s asking what you can do to help,” he said.

One of the main points Duncan emphasized was the idea of putting policy above politics. A former baseball player and entrepreneur, Duncan dove into politics with no previous experience. “My area wanted to hear my American dream,” he explained. When elected, Duncan continued his focus on party policy, not the game of politics. “I didn’t care about the politics, I was there to bring conservative ideals forward,” he said.

Lt. Governor Duncan said that he voted for Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections, but received backlash as the 2020 election came to a close. He informed people that there was, after a thorough investigation, no election fraud and that Joe Biden would be the President Elect. It was time for the Republican party to move on from the election and work with what they could. 

“I thought I would be a part of the Republican choir, but then it was a moment of realizing I was onstage doing a solo,” explained Duncan. As he spoke about the Republican party admitting defeat and moving forward, Duncan experienced a whirlwind of negativity ranging from angry tweets from President Trump himself to violent threats against him and his wife, resulting in 24-hour security at their home. 

NHIOP ambassador and history and second education double major from the class of 2023, Pat Marcoux, said that Duncan’s speech was “exactly what New Hampshire and many other New England states are looking for in the Republican Party.” As Lt. Governor Duncan explained in his speech, the rhetoric and tone from former President Trump drove independents and moderate conservatives away from the Republican party in the 2020 election. Marcoux explained how some elements of GOP 2.0 could bring those voters back in the next election. “I think it’s what our country needs, more of a moderate voice, a voice that is too often lost in the chaos of the fringes,” he said.”

Fellow NHIOP ambassador and class of 2022 politics major, TJ Robinson, echoed similar sentiments. “It was a very informative and insightful discussion on a topic that needs to be addressed by the GOP following the 2020 election,” said Robinson. “Duncan’s unwavering conviction to his movement is honorable and encouraging. I hope to see some of his ideas implemented by the GOP in future elections,” he continued.

Lt Governor Duncan announced that he would not be running for reelection in the state of Georgia. His focus continues to be “having an honest conversation with America,” and he believes GOP 2.0 will achieve just that. Amani Clemens, a class of 2024 politics major and NHIOP student ambassador, said “ for him to voluntarily not run for reelection again means he really believes in GOP 2.0. I think his message is very powerful and he genuinely, truly believes in it.”

During the question and answer session following his speech, Lt Governor Duncan said that his work on the foster care system in Georgia has been the most rewarding part of his career. Among other legislative moves, the state of Georgia has been focusing on what to do for kids aging out of foster care. “We want Georgia to be the number one state to be a foster kid in,” he explained. 

The final question of the night came from a student who asked what advice Lt Governor Duncan had for students interested in political careers. “Just remember it’s about the journey, not the trophy,” said Duncan. “If you keep that in mind, you’ll be amazed at what you accomplish,” he continued.

Lt Governor Duncan expressed his hopes to visit New Hampshire again soon and continue promoting GOP 2.0. The NHIOP will continue to welcome authors as their Bookmark Series progresses. The Saint Anselm community will have the opportunity to hear from David Drucker on his book “In Trump’s Shadow” on October 26, 2021.