Thursday, December 7, 2006

Resolution on GOP Principles to be Brought to RNC Meeting

This article is right on target. A Pennsylvania group of Republicans plans to bring a resolution to the January RNC Meeting stating that the GOP has strayed from its basic principles.

For Pa. Republicans, soul-searching time
Amy Worden

Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG - Stung by their Election Day trouncing, Republicans from
Harrisburg to Lower Merion to Washington have embarked on an intense round of
soul-searching.Pennsylvania Republican State Committee chairman Robert Gleason
summoned regional caucus leaders to a damage-assessment meeting here last
Friday. A day earlier, Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman told a
gathering of Republican governors in Miami that it was time for
"self-examination."Both were trying to explain why the GOP suffered so many
losses on Nov. 7 and to define a rebuilding strategy to take back lost seats and
retain the White House in 2008.Gleason said he and other state leaders examined
last month's election returns and began to chart a map for victory in
2008."There is concern about the Southeast - it hasn't been trending
Republican," Gleason said. "We are looking to do voter education for Republicans
and do more voter registration."On this most state and national party leaders
agree: The GOP needs to return to its "core principles" of fiscal restraint and
limited government.But moderate voices are going a step further, blaming the
party for ceding control to a minority on the far right who have allowed
spending to spiral out of control, while focusing on "wedge" issues - such as
stem-cell research - that are driving away centrist Republican voters.Perhaps
nowhere in Pennsylvania is this dynamic felt more intensely than in the
Philadelphia suburbs, which have been noticeably shifting Democratic in recent
elections.In the former Republican stronghold of Lower Merion a local party
group seeks to regain lost ground by drafting its first-ever resolution spelling
out its dissatisfaction with the national Republican Party.The resolution states
that the party has "strayed away from basic principles" and "has not reached out
to independent-minded voters." It also states support for "limited governmental
intrusion into private lives" and accuses the party of "disproportionately
focusing on peripheral issues.""We've been losing a lot of races, and now we're
losing the registration war in our township," said Tracey Specter, chairwoman of
the Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth. "On Election Day, we saw
a lot of Republicans voting for Democrats. We want them to come back into the
party."Specter - daughter-in-law of U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) - said GOP
registration numbers had slipped in the townships as Democratic and independent
registrations had grown.In 2000, 45 percent of voters were Republican, now the
figure is 37 percent, she said."The national party is not focusing on core
values; it's focusing on wedge issues," Specter said.Top GOP fund-raiser Bob
Asher of Montgomery County called the document "right on target."Asher, a
Republican national committeeman, said he faxed the resolution to RNC
headquarters last week and would push for its inclusion in discussions at the
party's January meeting."It's something I think the Republican Party would be
well-advised to consider," he said.Pollster Chris Borick said his Election Day
exit polls in the Lehigh Valley reflected Republican voter dissatisfaction with
the hard-right-leaning direction of the party."If the party is to regain its
stature, it has to change gears," said Borick, a political science professor at
Muhlenberg College. "This election exacerbated the tensions between
conservatives and moderates that had been brewing for a long time."But Gleason
disagreed, attributing the Republican losses in Pennsylvania to voter
disapproval of the Iraq war, dissatisfaction with bigger government and higher
taxes, and - in the case of defeated U.S. Reps. Curt Weldon and Don Sherwood -
ethical issues."The results were not a deep-seated ideological statement on the
part of the American people," he said. "That the party is in choke-hold by
ultraconservatives is not true."Still, two of the Philadelphia region's most
powerful Republican voices argued in recent Inquirer op-ed pieces that the party
must return to the center if it is to win back seats in 2008.Arlen Specter, the
state's most senior Republican leader, said Pennsylvania Republicans must
recapture the "vital center" of the electorate to succeed. He went on to say the
GOP should follow the advice of 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, a
conservative icon who said government should "stay off our backs, out of our
pocketbooks, and out of our bedrooms."Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd
Whitman, a vocal moderate who warned of a midterm Republican defeat in her 2004
book It's My Party Too, urged Bush to lead the party back to traditional roots
and to build bipartisan coalitions on immigration and stem-cell
research.Whitman, who now heads the It's My Party Too political action
committee, said the party platform drafted in 2004 was too single-issue-focused
and alienated voters. "It's too detailed, there has to be a position on
everything," she said. "They used to be general statements of principle. But
instead they started weeding people out - the moderates."Whitman said there
should be a place in the party for an evangelical Christian woman she met who
was opposed to abortion but who supported stem-cell research.Gleason said he
would meet with Specter and other party leaders as well as regional committee
leaders to determine party priorities ahead of its semi-annual meeting in
February.Gleason said he also would embark on a "reeducation" campaign about the
Reagan-era principles of fiscal and social conservatism and assure local GOP
leaders that the party and its candidates would not stray from them."The way we
differentiate as Republicans is that we are more conservative than Democrats,"
Gleason said. "I wouldn't say that we should moderate our principles."

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