Minnesota’s Pawlenty: GOP must lure conservative Democrats, others to build party cloutBy Michael R. Blood, AP
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Minn. governor urges GOP to broaden party base
SAN DIEGO — Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty says Republicans should reach out to conservative Democrats and independents to rebuild the party’s clout in the era of Barack Obama.
Republican numbers are shrinking in many states. The governor told members of the Republican National Committee that the party must not turn off voters who might disagree with the GOP on some issues.
Pawlenty says the party “needs room” for conservative Democrats and independents, as in the days of Ronald Reagan.
GOP leaders were meeting Thursday in San Diego.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — With Congress and the White House in Democratic hands, Republican Party leaders meeting in San Diego hope to map plans for a rebound that will repair the party’s tarnished brand, lure back big-dollar contributors and increase voter registration from coast to coast.
The Republican National Committee is gathering for several days of talks after a difficult stretch for the party. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, once seen as rising stars, have been damaged by extramarital affairs; Democrat Al Franken ousted Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota; and moderate Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter became a Democrat, tightening the rival party’s hold on power in the Senate.
Republicans eager to leave behind the George W. Bush era see promise in the rocky reception for President Barack Obama’s health care plan and his slipping poll numbers, and they like their chances in governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia, which will be seen as early referenda on Obama’s leadership.
The party also wants to expand its numbers in state legislatures, which will redraw political district boundaries after the 2010 census.
Divisions between moderates and conservatives remain. But fundraising has picked up in “the worst of the worst climate,” said RNC member Shawn Steel of California.
“You have a glamorous, Hollywood, good looking president initially, not so much now,” Steel said.
There will be notable absences at the meeting. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the best-known Republicans in the nation, isn’t dropping in despite the fact the meeting is in his home state. Potential future presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney aren’t on the agenda.
Instead, the committee’s 168 members will hear from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican viewed as a possible 2012 contender though he is largely unknown to many in the party.
California in many ways reflects the challenges Republicans face nationally. GOP registration has been slipping in the nation’s most populous state, and deep divisions remain over issues like immigration and abortion.
Party members are also expected to discuss reordering presidential primaries in 2012, and consider candidates for key leadership posts.
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