At the Conservative Political Action Party Conference (CPAC) this weekend, Republicans were all smiles and backslapping, celebrating their commitment to conservatism while cheering on ideological icons like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. Conference sponsor Grover Norquist called it “Woodstock for Conservatives.” But a report issued by the Republican National Committee today tells a different story.
In the review, prepared by the GOP’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” the party is given a thorough dressing down for its performance in the 2012 presidential campaign. RNC Chairman Reince Preibus went further in a statement, calling the GOP’s approach weak, inefficient, behind the times and non-inclusive. Along with modernizing its procedures and revamping its primary, the report calls on the party to develop “a more welcoming conservatism,” one that would be inclusive of minorities and more appealing to women and LGBT voters. It stops short, however, of mentioning such hot-button issues as abortion and same-sex marriage. In conclusion, the report warns that “unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the future.”
Republicans are starting to champion minority figures like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, but are turning a cold shoulder to moderates like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Is the Republican party out of touch? Will it take heed of this dire warning, or are its leaders clinging to conservative principles at its own peril? Is a new GOP ready to rise from the ashes of the failed 2012 campaign?
Paul West, Los Angeles Times reporter, Washington, D.C. bureau