In August 2012 Professor Richard Painter, who was Associate White House Counsel for Ethics under President George W. Bush, was interviewed on Access Minnesota radio for a two-part program entitled "The Moderate Wing of Minnesota's Republican Party." Host Jim du Bois interviewed Painter along with veteran Twin Cities journalist Cyndy Brucato, a Peabody and Emmy award winner, former Press Secretary and Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Gov. Arne Carlson, and Director of Communications for Senator Norm Coleman.
In Part 1 of the program, Painter and Brucato discussed the polarization and the political and ideological shifts in the state's Republican Party. Brucato noted that polarization might not be an obstacle because it actually "makes a party refresh itself." Painter argued that "we need to get back to the core issues that the Republican Party has been committed to for a long time, and one of them is individual liberty." The Constitution should be used to restrict the role of government, not individual liberty, including the right of a marriage contract, said Painter, an active member of Republicans Against the Minnesota Marriage Amendment.
Part 2 of the program addressed the electorate's recent political apathy. Brucato stated that rather than trying to appeal to a broad range of people, a party should pick its core policies and themes and appeal to the people who agree with those principles. Painter agreed, adding that the Republican party should appeal to people as Americans—that is the common interest. "We want the same future for our children," he added.
Painter and Brucato also discussed the media's influence and Americans' perspectives on political discourse. Brucato noted that despite new technology and social media, most Americans still put their greatest trust and respect in mainstream and traditional media. Painter said that the former control in the media has been lost with the Internet and talk radio, and that people need to take more responsibility for what they listen to. People need to learn to think for themselves, he said. "It's a question of people using good judgment."
Access Minnesota is a public affairs program that focuses on timely issues affecting the state. It features expert analysis by University of Minnesota faculty members and guests who include elected and community leaders, researchers, and authors. It is produced by the Minnesota Broadcasters Association in collaboration with the University’s College of Liberal Arts and its Alumni Association. Access Minnesota airs weekly on KUOM radio and monthly on WUCW television.