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Monday, March 18, 2013


GOP announces plan to recruit minorities


— Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, conceding his party’s “message was weak,” Monday unveiled series of steps to change how his party does business by promoting more tolerance and inclusiveness, a strategy aimed at wooing alienated minority voters.
Priebus detailed the findings from an often scathing report from his “Growth and Opportunity Project,” the result of a detailed study he initiated immediately after the November election. Republicans not only lost the presidential race—which they thought they had a good shot at winning—but seats in both houses of Congress.
“The report minces no words in telling us that we have to be more inclusive. I agree,” he said. “Our 80 percent friend is not our 20 percent enemy. We can be true to our platform without being disrespectful of those who don’t agree with it 100 percent.”
He added, “I didn’t need a report to tell me that we have to make up ground with minority groups, with women, and with young voters.”

Priebus also had harsh words for outspoken Republicans. Though he didn’t name names, he said, “I think we had a lot of biologically stupid things that were said in the last election.” Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, for instance, spoke about “legitimate rape.”
The chairman outlined steps to recruit more minority candidates, as well as engage voters on college campuses. New staff will be hired, and the party plans to spend $10 million this year on the effort.
“The RNC cannot and will not write off any demographic, community, or region of this country,” the party chairman said.

Republicans have made similar promises for years—and Priebus’ predecessor as chairman, Michael Steele, is African-American. But Glenn McCall, a South Carolina national committeeman who helped write the study, said this time will be different. The message, rather than the party itself, will be emphasized, he said, and eventually more voters will learn to trust Republicans.
Priebus was unusually blunt in assessing what went wrong in 2012, when Mitt Romney lost the White House as President Barack Obama, thought to be in a neck and neck race, wound up winning handily.

“Our message was weak, our ground game was insufficient, we weren’t inclusive, we were behind in both data and digital, our primary and debate process needed improvement,” Priebus said.
He’s got a difficult task, because the party is split today between pragmatists such as Priebus and those who see 2012 as a small setback that can be overcome as long as the party sticks to conservative principles.

The 100-page report, written by a five-member panel, makes that clear from the start. “The GOP today is a tale of two parties,” it says. “It is time to smartly change course, modernize the party and learn once again how to appeal to more people.”
Priebus tried to assure the diehards he was not abandoning them.
“A passion for the issues drives good campaigns, and voters of all races, income levels, and backgrounds need to understand that our policies offer a chance for a brighter future,” he said.

Conservative groups, he insisted, “have a valuable role to play. The RNC will always be the leader in campaign mechanics, but as the report makes clear, friends and allies should take up capabilities that can supplement our efforts in certain areas: voter registration, research, digital training, and more.”
But there are problems, as the report describes how voters often saw the party “narrow minded,” “out of touch,” and “stuffy old men.”
And, Priebus lamented, “The perception that we’re the party of the rich continues to grow.”
Work with us, he urged. “If there’s one message I want everyone to take away from here it’s this: We know we have problems, we’ve identified them, and we’re implementing the solutions to fix them,” he said.

The party plans a series of new steps, including senior level advisory councils for Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans. Minority candidate recruitment will be beefed up. Communications staffers will be hired to promote minority leaders in the party.
Priebus also vowed to aggressively market Republicans on college campuses, and more actively recruit women candidates.

A new national grassroots program is aimed at engaging minorities. “We will take our message to civic centers and community events, where people live, work and worship,” the chairman said. “This new approach will be diverse, year-round, community-based, and dedicated to person-to-person engagement.”

Republicans will also move more quickly into the age of political technology. By May 1, it plans to overhaul its political education department, making more party resources available electronically. It will set up a field office in the San Francisco area.
“As we learned with visits to Silicon Valley and conversations with top tech firms, many of the best minds are on the other side of the country. Having an office there will make it easier for technologists to join our efforts, and it can serve as a hub for our data and digital political training “ Priebus said.

He’ll also try to streamline the presidential nominating process. Instead of the current hodgepodge system of nomination contest debates, he’ll push for fewer debates. And the party convention, which last year was held in late August, would be moved much earlier.



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