Because Republicans claim deficits are terrible, you would think that Republican presidents run up smaller deficits than Democrat presidents do. That is not the case. If you look at the record of annual deficits from 1980 up to the start of the Great Recession, you couldn’t spot much difference between Republican and Democrat deficits.
The only years that stand out as special occur in the second term of President Clinton, when there were surpluses, and in the second term of President George W. Bush, when there were the largest deficits.
The Republicans’ philosophy must be, “Deficits under Democrats, bad; deficits under Republicans, who cares.” They toggle between the two viewpoints, depending on which party has the presidency. They surely cannot be called the party of thrift.
If they can’t make that claim, then they will have to find some other positive position not already in the realm of the Democrats. That won’t be easy. Being against gun control will not win many elections.