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) - Conservative host Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday he isn't sorry to see Arlen Specter leave the GOP - and that many Republicans wish the Pennsylvania senator would take a few others with him when he goes.
"A lot of people say, 'Well, Specter, take [Sen. John] McCain with you. And his daughter [Meghan]. Take McCain and his daughter with you if you're gonna..." he told listeners, dissolving in laughter.
".....It's ultimately good. You're weeding out people who aren't really Republicans," he said.
Limbaugh did concede the downside of Specter's defection. "It makes the Senate essentially as big a slam dunk for Obama and the Democrats as the House of Representatives already is," he said.
Earlier this month, Specter said Limbaugh did have a tendency to make "provocative" statements, but told radio host Howard Stern he didn't have a problem with the conservative talker. "Do I like Limbaugh?... yeah, I like him," he said then.
UPDATE: Late Tuesday afternoon, Meghan McCain fired back on Twitter. "RED TIL I'M DEAD BABY!!! I love the republican party enough to give it constructive criticism, I love my party and sure as hell not leavin!"
WASHINGTON (CNN) – As Congress considers his budget proposal, President Obama is back in campaign mode Wednesday, heading West to plug the plan on the road, and online with a video pitch to supporters.
"I'm asking you to head outside this Saturday to knock on some doors, talk to some neighbors, and let them know how important this budget is to our future," he says in a four-minute video appeal included in a message sent from former campaign manager David Plouffe, who now heads the Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America effort, to the group's massive e-mail list.
OFA is directing supporters to canvass this weekend - in their neighborhoods, by e-mail and on Facebook - in support of the president's budget plan. And they've been asked to lobby lawmakers, using an online tool that will help them contact members of Congress.
The group boasts an e-mail list of millions, though turnout for its first post-election organizing event - a weekend of house parties to help volunteers push for the president's stimulus plan - drew far fewer than any pre-Election Day effort.
(CNN) - Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party is going to launch an "off the hook" public relations campaign that will update the GOP’s image by translating it to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."
The new GOP leader told the Washington Times that the party’s defeat in states like North Carolina and Virginia made it clear they needed a new approach.
“We need messengers to really capture that region - young, Hispanic, black, a cross section...” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”
He added, jokingly, that “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.”
Steele described the new multi-platform PR offensive as “avant-garde, technically. It will come to [the] table with things that will surprise everyone - off the hook.” Asked whether that meant cutting-edge tactics, Steele demurred. “I don't do 'cutting-edge,’” he said. “That's what Democrats are doing. We're going beyond cutting-edge.”
Steele, who began a massive personnel overhaul at the RNC shortly after his election, said he has started meeting weekly with congressional Republicans. He said he’ll be gathering input from House and Senate leaders, not giving instructions - but criticized national Republican leadership’s focus on party unity as a top priority, saying the failure to devote itself instead to developing fresh faces had cost the GOP.
“We missed the mark in the past, which is why we are in the crapper now,” he said. “We had the White House, the Senate and the House and were not building a farm team over the last years. We could have been ahead of Democrats and their 50-state strategy.”
(CNN) - Sarah Palin will not be attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington later this month, her office confirmed to CNN Tuesday.
The Alaska governor had been expected to serve as the headline attraction at the three day event, which is also scheduled to include conservative icons like Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter. The presidential straw poll conducted at the annual Washington gathering is widely viewed as a reliable bellwether of conservative support. Several of the GOP’s past - and potentially future - presidential hopefuls are also slated to address the gathering, including Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Republican Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will introduce President Obama tomorrow at a Florida town hall meeting plugging the stimulus plan.
Crist was one of 19 governors, including four Republicans, to release a joint letter publicly urging Congress to to pass the president’s stimulus package — a move that earned him an appreciative phone call from Obama.
The Florida governor has said he wants to help Obama push for the measure. The bill is currently being considered by the Senate after failing to draw GOP support in the House.
“Florida has taken prudent steps to cut taxes for our people and balance our budget in these increasingly difficult times,” Crist said in a statement released by the White House Monday. “Any attempts at federal stimulus must prioritize job creation and targeted tax relief for small business owners. I am eager to welcome President Obama to the Sunshine State as he continues to work hard to reignite the US economy.”
Tuesday’s event in Fort Myers — the second of Obama’s stimulus town halls — will be held the same day the administration is slated to announce its economic recovery plan.
(CNN) - President Obama sent a message to supporters Monday personally calling them action behind his agenda for the first time since his inauguration.
The president’s message was sent by Organizing for America — the former campaign apparatus that is now a two-week-old arm of the Democratic National Committee — to anyone who was involved with an Obama house party during the campaign season.
The president is asking them to host similar gatherings next weekend to push for his economic stimulus plan. That package, which passed the House last week without Republican support, is currently being considered by the Senate.
“I hope to sign the recovery plan into law in the next few weeks,” said Obama in the e-mail. “But I need your help to spread the word and build support. … You can help restore confidence in our economy by making sure your friends, family, and neighbors understand how the recovery plan will impact your community.”
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama camp is calling the president’s supporters into action behind his agenda for the first time since his inauguration.
Organizing for America — the former campaign apparatus that is now a two-week-old arm of the Democratic National Committee — is sending an e-mail to anyone who was involved with an Obama house party during the campaign season, asking them to host similar gatherings next weekend to push for the president’s economic stimulus plan. That package, which passed the House this week without Republican support, is currently being considered by the Senate.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The nation was evenly divided during the bitterly fought 2000 campaign, but the election night map was not: Viewers saw a sea of red flooding most of the country, with blue states ringing the coasts.
Two cycles later, an analysis of a year’s worth of polling data released Wednesday suggests a far different electoral landscape, and a shift more dramatic than even the Democrats’ solid 2008 showing might suggest: an ocean of blue surrounding a shrinking red island in the center of the nation.