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Inside the Boiler Room: The GOP Leader

NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro discuss who is the leader of the Republican Party after their loss in the presidential race. For now, the leader seems to be House Speaker John Boehner who is the GOP's main negotiator in the fiscal cliff talks.

Thanks to DaNoid for the question!

Edited by NBC's Matt Loffman.


MONTANARO: Welcome to Inside the Boiler Room. I'm Domenico Montanaro joined by Mark Murray. Mark, DaNoid asks, 'If we define the leader of a political party as the most influential elected official from his/her party in Washington, who is actually the leader of the Republican party right now? If there doesn't appear to be one, who could we expect to assume that title during the next four years?'

MURRAY: Well this is a fascinating question always for the party that is out of power, particularly the White House. When you look at  an elected leader when you are actually talking about the current negotiations in this fiscal cliff debate, it does seem to be House Speaker John Boehner. But then you also end up having someone like RNC Chairman Reince Priebus whose own committee is looking to see what went wrong in 2012. But to really answer the question on who eventually becomes the leader, its really -- we wont really find out until 2016 when the party selects its presidential nominee. But even as we found out with Mitt Romney, sometimes actually being the leader of that party for a short amount of time...boy, sometimes you end up losing and you are gone a week later and people have forgotten about you.

MONTANARO: Well if leader means someone who is able to corral influence, I do think that there are some people that can do that. Right now, I think that Speaker Boehner, first and foremost, should be at the top of the list because it is the highest ranking office. I mean, you are third in line to the President. Then I would say and maybe almost on equal footing is Sen. Mitch McConnell. The fact of the matter is, he is one of the best tacticians and strategists that the party has on rules. So when you need to get something done or blocked in the Senate, he is the guy that Republicans go to because he can go toe-to-toe with Sen. Harry Reid. I do think that a little further down inside the Republican caucus you still look at someone like Rep. Paul Ryan who does tend to be an influential intellectual leader and someone to watch for the future of the party being as young as he is. But, I think you are right that obviously the person that becomes president becomes the party's de facto leader. I think nobody would have said Barack Obama six years ago was the leader of the Democratic party. But that person emerges eventually.

MURRAY: But one thing that is fascinating and we are going to see in 2016 and it will be a lot like 2008 where so much of the leadership, so much of the activity will be on the presidential campaign trail on both the Democratic side and the Republican side and when you would have a lame duck president like Barack Obama would become in 2015, 2016, all that attention is going to be on the campaign trail. So when there is news, sometimes people are going to be looking for more comment from the presidential actors rather than the President himself who is in the Oval Office, which is an interesting development.

MONTANARO: Well, that is what you call lame duck. (LAUGHTER) I'm Domenico Montanaro--

MURRAY: --and I'm Mark Murray. Thanks DaNoid.