SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) – At the annual conference of the Republican Governors Association, a diverse new group of governors announced they will redefine the image and message of the Grand Old Party.
"They're all kind of Americans, they're all kind of races, creeds, colors, religions, who understand that a free market economy, smaller government, lower taxes, less spending, rational regulation – that's the way to grow the economy," Mississippi governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate Haley Barbour told CNN. "They all are united by what they believe in, and they're the right policies."
This year voters elected the first Hispanic woman governor, in New Mexico; an Indian-American female governor, in South Carolina; and a Hispanic man to lead Nevada - all of whom spoke at a panel entitled "The New Face of the GOP," which opened the RGA meeting in California.
The candidates themselves – many of whom were backed by the Tea Party – tend to broaden the issues and cite more generally their anti-establishment, outsider status. The implicit message is that the party of one-time "good old boys" is gaining steam with the common man.
"I don't think it's so much about white male or white female or anything in between," said Gov.-elect Nikki Haley, an Indian-American woman who will run South Carolina's statehouse. "It is very much about real people running -those that haven't come from political hierarchy, those that aren't from wealthy means, those that haven't wished to do this all their life. It's real true business people that know what it's like to hurt."
Susana Martinez, governor-elect of New Mexico, said she hasn't seen the governor's mansion she will occupy for the next four years, and she doesn't even know exactly where it is. The charismatic politician told CNN her constituents have bigger things to think about than the stewardship of a Latina.
"What's going to be more important is actually delivering the results that I'm committed to," Martinez told CNN. "I'm proud of who I am, I'm proud that I'm female, I'm educated, I'm Hispanic, but at the same time I have to always remember that I have a path to pave here, and I have results to deliver to the New Mexicans."