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by Clarence Page
Will Republican leaders listen to a bruising new internal report that calls for more minority outreach? First, they have to convince their party's right-wingers to avoid making younger and nonwhite voters feel about as welcome as a cheeseburger at a vegan buffet.
That's a very short summation of the "Growth and Opportunity Project" report ("
The 100-page study concludes that the
"Our message was weak," said Priebus. "Our ground game was insufficient; we weren't inclusive. ... So there's not one solution. There's a long list of them."
But none more urgent, he said, than the need to reach out to women and minorities. Obama won more than 80 percent of blacks, Hispanics, Asians and others in the last election. By 2050, the nonHispanic whites on whom Republican victories tend to rely are expected to be a minority. The report calls for a massive outreach to women, African-American, Asian, Hispanic and gay voters that mimics in many ways President Barack Obama's successful ground game.
The reboot would include hiring paid outreach staffers across the country in a
Sound familiar? You may recall how Michael Steele, the RNC's first and now-former black chairman, was rebuffed, ridiculed as "gaffe-prone" (Washington's way of saying you're being too truthful, too often,) and ultimately defeated in his 2011 re-election bid -- after calling for a outreach to diversity quite similar to what Priebus wants now.
"I talked about the need to expand the party, get out of our comfort zones and get acquainted with grassroots people," Steele told me in a telephone interview. "It's nice to hear Reince parrot me now."
Steele spent about
Steele is hardly the first RNC chairman to call for minority outreach. In 2005, Ken Mehlman stirred controversy by apologizing to the
But most efforts to turn the outreach talk into action have been rebuffed by skeptics who see such appeals as a waste of time and money. That changed after nominee Mitt Romney's defeat became the Republicans' fifth failure to win the popular vote in the last six presidential elections.
Is the "Southern strategy" dead, as Steele announced when he began his chairmanship? "If it wasn't," he told me, "after this election, I hope everybody realizes that it is now or we really are the stupid party, as Gov. Bobby Jindal (a Louisiana Republican) recently said."
Yet at the previous week's
"We're not here to rebrand a party," failed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin declared. "We're here to rebuild a country."
"We don't need a new idea," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio assured the crowd. "There is an idea. The idea's called America and it still works!"
How can the
Now it's time for the
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