(CNN) - Meghan McCain, daughter of former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, said the GOP is going to have to become more inclusive if it wants to rebuild.
“I just wish that moderates like myself - more moderate Republicans and more socially liberal Republicans - weren’t looked at as, ‘Get rid of the dirty moderates. Get rid of them,’” the 24-year-old told CNN affiliate KTAR radio in a joint interview with her father.
“We need to be an inclusive party. We need to be an umbrella party. We need to inspire 20-somethings, which is something the Obama campaign did very well,” she said on the "Mac & Gaydos" show.
“And it’s not that I think that our message is neither good nor bad - I just think it’s that the Democrats package their message better, and I think if we could be able to communicate with my generation, the Republican Party can really rebuild itself,” she added.
Asked about the coverage she’s been getting for the GOP, McCain said she feels like she’s “speaking out for a lot of young people that don’t feel spoken for.”
(CNN) - Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr said Saturday it’s hard to “overestimate the damage” that’s been inflicted on the Republican Party - not only with this week's defection of Sen. Arlen Specter, but also the “lack of any coherent philosophy, vision or leadership.”
“The Republican Party is in very deep trouble right now,” Barr said in an interview with CNN.
Barr, who was once a loyal soldier in the GOP, joined the Libertarian Party in 2006 and was the party’s presidential candidate in 2008.
The ex-Republican said he doesn’t feel like he relates to Specter's reasons for switching to the Democratic Party. “Where I came from there really was a philosophical basis for leaving the Republican Party,” Barr said.
Specter, who announced Tuesday he’s switching from a Republican to a Democrat, is making the move for political reasons, Barr said.
Specter said he had found himself increasingly "at odds with the Republican philosophy," but he also admitted the decision was driven partly by a desire to keep his seat.
The senator, who has represented Pennsylvania in the upper chamber since 1980, said he was "anxious" to stay in the Senate - and he did not want to face a Republican primary in order to keep his seat next year.
But Barr said he doesn’t think switching parties will give Specter an automatic win. “I don’t think that the people in Pennsylvania will really appreciate what he did,” he said.
ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) - Three prominent GOP leaders kicked off a campaign Saturday to reshape their party's image, gathering at a restaurant in Northern Virginia for the first of a series of town hall meetings.
The goal of the initiative, called the National Council for a New America, is to connect Republican leaders with voters across the country to help get the party's electoral fortunes back on track.
"Certainly our party has taken its licks the last few cycles, but that's why we're here," said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor. "The reality is the prescriptions coming out of Washington right now are not reflective of the mainstream of this country."
"It's time for us to listen a little bit, learn a little bit," said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who advised Republicans to work on the party's message and "not be so nostalgic."
"I would say you can't beat something with nothing. The other side has something. I don't like it, but they have it," said Bush, who repeatedly praised President Obama's tactical approach to politics, and commended his 2008 campaign as "forward-looking."
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney compared the GOP to Americans fighting the British during the Revolutionary War. "We are the party of the revolutionaries, they [Democrats] are the party of the monarchists," he told the overwhelmingly Republican crowd, saying the Republicans needed to "once again lead the American Revolution."
He blamed Washington for setting in motion policies that led to the collapse of the housing market, and painted his party's current minority status as a boon.
(CNN) - Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins said Saturday that while she likes President Barack Obama, she’s worried about where the Democrats will take the country.
“This is my first year in Congress, and what I’ve seen since I arrived in Washington has been truly eye-opening,” said Jenkins, the first freshman member of Congress to deliver the weekly GOP address.
“As a mother with two children, I'm concerned – like any mom would be – about the debt we’re piling on future generations,” she said.
Jenkins - who was the state treasurer in Kansas for six years and practiced as a certified public accountant for nearly two decades - slammed the stimulus package, the omnibus spending bill and the recently passed multi-trillion-dollar budget as examples that “Washington’s books are a mess.”
Republicans and some Democrats have criticized Obama’s spending plans as wasteful and excessive, but the president has said the hefty price tag is necessary, given the scope of the economic crisis.
“This week, we marked the president’s 100th day in office. And while, like most of you, I like the president personally, I think the Democrats’ first 100 days running Washington can be summed up in three words: spending, taxing, and borrowing,” she said.
“Middle-class families and small businesses across America are tightening their belts and making sacrifices each and every day during this recession, and Republicans believe that it’s time for Washington to do the same.”
Republicans, she said, “are fighting for middle-class families and small businesses every day here in Washington.”
“And we are ready to work in a bipartisan way on real solutions to create jobs, rebuild your savings, and get our economy moving again. Let’s hope the Democrats in charge are as well.”
Full transcript after the jump
WASHINGTON (CNN) - It was hardly the newsiest answer at his 100-day prime-time news conference, but President Obama's careful assessment of the state of the Republican Party is noteworthy.
"You know, politics in America changes very quickly and I'm a big believer that things are never as good as they seem and never as bad as they seem," the president said at the East Room event marking his 100th day in office.
It was a big day for the president, for sure. And, perhaps, a big week for the Republican Party as well, as a number of important and interesting players in GOP affairs began new efforts designed to repair the party's sullied brand in time for the 2010 midterm elections and beyond.
The 2006 and 2008 election results offer plenty of evidence of Republican troubles, as have our travels to 18 states since launching State of the Union in January. Adding his voice, Obama couldn't help but suggest he believes the congressional wing of the GOP is not off to a good start in 2009.
"I don't believe in crystal balls," the president said. "I do think that our administration has taken some steps that have restored confidence in the American people that we're moving in the right direction, and that simply opposing our approach on every front is probably not a good political strategy."
TILTON, New Hampshire (CNN) - Kate O'Leary voted for Barack Obama and began the year full of energy. But her hope is giving way these days to a sense that some things never change.
"I trust his motives," she said of President Obama. "I feel like he is an honorable guy, I am not sure if he can do it. That's the problem."
Too much too soon is one of her worries. Too much politics as usual is another. Add in too much bailout money and Kate O'Leary is more sober now than she was when Obama took the oath of office.
Across from O'Leary sat Debbie Lurvey, who took a job at the Tilt'n Diner after losing her job in the mortgage business.
"It was a forced unemployment because of the economy," Lurvey said. "So, you know, I decided that it was best to move on to something a little more stable."
O'Leary and Lurvey are among those who think the economy is going to get worse before it gets better. But our third guest for our weekly diner conversation, Jim Wells, isn't so sure.
"I think most of it is psychological," said Wells, a Republican who believes consumers need to be more confident. "The secret out of a recession like this is to spend money. And you have got to spend your own, you can't expect somebody else to spend it for you."
(CNN) - Find out what stories will be covered on Sunday's State of The Union with John King.
(CNN) - President Obama said Saturday the White House is acting “quickly and aggressively” to address the challenges posed by the H1N1 virus, citing the “potential for a pandemic” since the flu is spreading from human to human.
“We have asked every American to take the same steps you would take to prevent any other flu: keep your hands washed; cover your mouth when you cough; stay home from work if you’re sick; and keep your children home from school if they’re sick,” the president said in his weekly radio address.
Obama said the administration is “investing in every resource necessary to treat this virus and prevent a wider outbreak.”
Antiviral treatment has been delivered to states so they can treat those infected, and “out of an abundance of caution,” Obama said he requested $1.5 billion from Congress, if needed, for additional antivirals, emergency equipment and the development of a vaccine to prevent the virus.
The administration also launched MySpace, Facebook and Twitter pages to keep the public updated on the virus, the president said.
“It is my greatest hope and prayer that all of these precautions and preparations prove unnecessary. But because we have it within our power to limit the potential damage of this virus, we have a solemn and urgent responsibility to take the necessary steps,” he said.
The World Health Organization reported Saturday that more than 600 people in 15 countries have been infected with the virus commonly known as swine flu.
Full transcript after the jump
(CNN) - President Obama Friday couldn't help but poke fun at the now-famous trip up during his inaugural swearing in ceremony last January.
In a public ceremony to swear in Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the president noted his administration likes to swear in officials more than once.
"They were actually sworn in before today, but around here we like to make sure we get it right. I had to do it twice and so now we make everybody do it twice," the president joked.