Minn. GOP leaders react to RNC report on change

5:01 PM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Republican leaders say they agree with a new report from the Republican National Committee that calls for change.

Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee Chair, released the "Growth and Opportunity Project" report on Monday. It is an ambitious set of philosophy and infrastructure changes designed to overcome the electoral losses of 2012.

"People like Republican ideas, but in many cases, they do not like Republicans, or at least certain Republicans, because we have presented ourselves in an unattractive fashion," said Pat Shortridge, Minnesota GOP Chair. "We have not talked about what we would do. We have just run against the other guy or the other woman."

"You have to have appealing messengers with appealing messages. Last time, we had some candidates who were neither appealing messengers nor did they have appealing messages," he added.

The report, part of an effort to rebrand the GOP from the Grand OLD Party to the Growth and Opportunity Party, includes a proposed overhaul of the way the party picks its candidates. It calls for dumping the caucuses and conventions, which favor conservative activists and substitute primaries.

The report blames "third party groups that promote purity" for "hurting our electoral prospects." It is a not-so-veiled criticism of groups like the Tea Party and the Club for Growth, which often targets the party's own candidates who are not deemed "conservative" enough. The report calls for more outreach to women, young people and minorities.

Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann rejected the idea that single issue groups are hurting the party's electoral hopes.

"I do not (agree) at all," said Bachmann. "I think that we see a lot of unity going forward and people want positive solutions and they want us to work together."

"We should change. We have to change. Change is good," said Rick Aguilar, Hispanic Republican Assembly of Minnesota Chair. "Politics is about marketing. What is your message? How do we reach the people? How do we get them to go out of their house and buy our product and that is what we do when they go and vote."

Aguilar said he likes the new Latino faces of the GOP, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

"I am real confident that with their help, with their leadership, that the party will change," Aguilar said.

The report notes that younger generations divide on the issue of gay rights. It is a deciding factor for young people in joining the GOP or not.

However, there is not a rush by local GOP leaders to abandon long-held beliefs.

"I do not see any need to change our core beliefs," said Shortridge. "I see a need to better communicate our core beliefs, to better understand the old Reagan axiom that somebody who is your 80 percent friend is not your 20 percent enemy."

To improve their chances at the polls, the report calls for some structural changes, including limiting primary debates and choosing primaries over caucuses and conventions. Caucuses and conventions have been dominated by conservative activists in the GOP.

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