Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, says the GOP must move past social issues like gay marriage and abortion and focus on economic policy if it wants to win elections.
“I’m pretty traditional guy, almost 60 years old,” Johnson told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Monday. “I think marriage is between a man and a woman. But again if the voters decide that they want gay marriage I’m not going to oppose it.
“Social issues are going to primarily be decided in the states through democratic process and that’s the way it should happen,” he said.
“I’ll certainly go with the judgment of the American people in terms of where they want to fall on, whether it’s abortion issues or gay marriage or wherever,” he added.
Johnson, referred to as “the face of the Tea Party” by conservative columnist George Will in 2010, co-sponsored a Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act last year.
During a speech at the Republican Leadership Conference in May, he appeared to be turning away from his roots.
“I value the membership of the Tea Party movement. I am right there with them ideologically, I mean, ‘Taxed Enough Already.’ But the groups don’t necessarily represent all of the individuals in the movement,” he said.
“I think the individuals are now realizing they may have been led astray by an individual group or two and they really do understand that they have to win elections,” he said, adding, “My guess is the Tea Party grassroots are maybe a little more flexible.”