(CNN) – Republican attempts at honing their message to become more inclusive are merely superficial ploys, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee declared Monday.
"You can't put lipstick on a pig," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on a conference call prebutting Tuesday night's Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
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The response will be delivered by Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican hailed on the cover of Time Magazine this week as "The Republican Savior." Rubio has been the leading Republican voice for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate, adding his name to a bipartisan framework unveiled last month.
But even Rubio hasn't grasped the take-away from last month's election, Wasserman Schultz argued Monday, saying his continued support for spending cuts to entitlement programs reflected a disconnect with voters.
"What's particularly unfortunate is that Sen. Rubio, along with the leadership of the GOP, has not gotten the message of voters from the election," Wasserman Schultz said. "They've seen the aftermath of the election, with the top to bottom review, and they don't think there's anything wrong with their polices, they just think they have to package them better."
Among those policies is the House GOP budget proposal advanced by Rep. Paul Ryan, last year's GOP vice presidential candidate. The DNC chairwoman honed in on Rubio's support for the plan, which includes the provision that Medicare-approved private insurers would one day compete with traditional Medicare on an exchange.
The plan's opponents, including Wasserman Schultz, say that would increase the financial burden on senior citizens. The DNC chairwoman said Rubio in particular was vulnerable because he represents a large number of senior citizens in Florida.
"I think because Sen. Rubio has been asked to do the rebuttal to the State of the Union, and he's from Florida, and the major policies of the Republican Party - which they have not shied away from since the election, despite the election results - makes him particularly open to criticism," she said.
The "lipstick on a pig" phrase has been thrown around frequently in politics, including on Sunday, when Rep. Keith Ellison used it to describe the same GOP revamp that Wasserman Schultz was criticizing. Former Vice President Dick Cheney told a crowd in 2004 it was his "favorite line."
Obama's use of the phrase during the 2008 presidential election had Republicans demanding an apology. The campaign of then-rival John McCain said Obama's remarks were offensive and a slap at Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, despite the fact that the Arizona senator himself used the phrase a year earlier to describe a policy proposal of Hillary Clinton's.
Palin put her own spin on the line during her 2008 convention speech, asking what the difference was "between a hockey mom and a pit bull."
"Lipstick," she said.