April 29th, 2009
11:00 PM ET
12 years ago

GOP set to launch rebranding effort

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Coming soon to a battleground state near you: a new effort to revive the image of the Republican Party and to counter President Obama's characterization of Republicans as "the party of 'no.'"

CNN has learned that the new initiative, called the National Council for a New America, will be announced Thursday.

It will involve an outreach by an interesting mix of GOP officials, ranging from 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain to Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and the younger brother of the man many Republicans blame for the party's battered brand: former President George W. Bush.

In addition to Sen. McCain and Gov. Bush, GOP sources familiar with the plans tell CNN others involved in the new group's "National Panel Of Experts" will include:

*Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former national GOP chairman
*Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
*Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

It will report to GOP congressional leaders, and among those signing the announcement that will be made public Thursday are:

*House GOP Leader John Boehner
*House GOP Whip Eric Cantor
*House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence
*Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell
*The No. 2 Senate Republican, Jon Kyl
*And the Senate GOP Conference Chairman, Lamar Alexander

"However, this is not a Republican-only forum," reads the letter announcing the new effort, a copy of which was obtained by CNN from Republican sources involved in the effort. "While we will be guided by our principles of freedom and security, we will seek to include more than just our ideas.

"This forum will include a wide open policy debate that every American can feel free to participate in," the announcement letter reads. "We do this not just to offer an alternative point of view or to be disagreeable. Instead, we want to ask the American people what their hopes and dreams are. Since January, the President and the Democratic Majority in Congress have – rightfully so – put forward their plan for the future, now we must listen, learn and lead through an honest, open conversation with the American people that will result in building policy proposals that will yield the best results for our nation's long-term success."

The first meeting is planned this Saturday in Arlington, Virginia, just outside of the nation's capital. Northern Virginia is one of the suburban areas that has shifted decidedly in favor of the Democrats in recent years, helping President Obama carry the state for the Democrats for president for the first time since 1964.

Sources familiar with the effort say it was born of conversations between Cantor and the members of the experts panel. After Bush and Romney agreed to take part, the conversations expanded and the idea won the blessing of both the House and Senate GOP leadership. Additional town halls are planned in the weeks ahead, each likely dedicated to a specific issue, with health care, the economy, energy and national security leading the issues menu the group says it hopes to discuss heading into the 2010 midterm elections, and possibly beyond.

UPDATE: South Dakota Sen. John Thune will also participate in the group. The Republican congressional leadership is also slated to travel the country and attend town-hall meetings as part of the new effort.

Filed under: Republican Party
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. SAGG

    How sweet, trying to remake your image, and saying you get it now, Repubs. Too bad it ain't gonna work until you guys moderate yourselves, which took a major hit after you left Specter. That's right–YOU left Spector, NOT the other way around. You Repubs just don't get it, do you? You're too radical, and too much on the fringe. You're basically extinct in the northeast, and getting there in the Rust Belt. Out west, it seems to be the same thing as in the Rust Belt. The only place you have left (no pun intended) is in the south, and even there, you guys lost Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. The country's leaving you in the dust. Go on, keep up your antics. See where it'll get you...

    April 29, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  2. Jeff

    Presumably accurate...this article points out an astounding irony in..."the man many Republicans blame for the party's battered brand: former President George W. Bush". If this is so, then why did Republicans vote almost to a Congressman/woman or Senator every time for his agenda and policies? So, doesn't the record show they were just as wrong as Bush?...or only voted partisan whether they believed it was best for Americans or not? And now they are accusing the Democrat lead executive and legislative branches of being partisan? Check mate GOP. Game over...you loose.

    April 29, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. Mr. Y

    Those same old tired republicans recycling the same tired ideas. Thats why they lost and will continue to be in the wildnerss for years to come

    April 29, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  4. MW

    It would be interesting indeed if they actually take comments and suggestions from the people at these town hall meetings or are they just going to continue to spew their hate, racism, name calling and fear mongering on this road trip of theirs. "The National Counsel for a New America" if that is anything like their "Contract With America" brand then they are doomed to the history books same as the way of the Wigs.

    April 29, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  5. HJA

    Blah Blah Blah. Call it what you want. It's still the same GOP. BS is BS no matter how you spread it.

    April 29, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. Joe

    As an Obama Supporter and Democrat, I believe the country needs a strong Republican party. However, if this group is nothing but new lipstick on the pig, known as the Republican party, than it won't work.

    Pubs, dump Cheney, Limbaugh and the rest of the hate and angry crowd that has infected your party – Be a party of ideas and constructive dialogue. You can believe in marriage between a man and a woman and not spew your anti-minority and anti-gay KKK vile

    April 29, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. S Callahan

    Good...the only way to make a change is to begin with the dialogue...

    now I'm sure there will be negative posters..which will be funny cause they were the same ones 'itchin for the Pubs to make some changes...

    April 29, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. deca

    The 'National Panel of Experts' is Barbour, Jindal and Romney? Is this some kind of joke? Can the Republicans sink any lower? I guess the answer is yes. This is remarkably like slapping a coat of paint on an old broken down jalopy in the corner of the used parking lot and screaming – "Red Hot Special!" You might fool a few saps, but most people will just laugh.

    April 29, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  9. Bob Gillespie

    As long as the Republicans have idiots such as Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh determining policy, there will be no viable Republican party. They are Plutocrats who don't seem to understand the fundamentals of being an American. The Democrats are helping them however with the likes of Pelosi insensitive or incapable of seeking real input from Republican moderates. The Party of No can grow again if Pelosi represents the Party of Exclusion. President Obama was correct tonight when he discussed bipartisanship. It is not agreeing to agree but agreeing to discuss with an open mind for the beneift of Americans and the world.

    April 29, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  10. Douglas Ford

    Sounds like a good idea to me. I did not vote Republican this time around because I honestly feel Obama was the better choice. I would never be opposed to a Republican choice for whatever position I can help him/her get elected for as long as that person is able to show their plans to better our nations.

    April 29, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  11. ellynn sky

    Well it's about time! Good luck and we know all of you have our country in your best interest. I think we also need to give a lot of people some simple math courses so they can see what this country is in for. Although, I strongly feel that those who voted for Obama care only for themself and not the future of our country and are families. I sure hope you can wake people up and take their blinders off.

    April 29, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  12. Texas Teacher

    Oh, come on.... let it die.... *LOL* Limbaugh can lead it and its following right over the nearest cliff... which appears to be happening. He can pranch and dance and preach lies like an old time baptist preacher.. but he is still just radio announcer who is having visions of grandeur!

    My best memory of Limbaugh was on Larry King during the Clinton years. King asked him why he out and out lied about issues and presented them as the truth! He said, "Larry, I'm not about truth! I'm about entertainment!" I don't recall exactly how King phrased his question, but I surely do recall that of Rush Limbaugh!" A jerk then... and still a jerk!

    April 29, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  13. rlee

    Gee, nice group of folks . . . .
    No women.
    No one from the Northeast.
    No one from the west coast.
    With the exception of Jindal, every one of them is white.
    With the exception of Cantor, every one of them is Christian.
    With the exception of Pence, Boehner, and Romney, every one is from below the Mason-Dixon line.

    As Sen. Susan Collins said, it's no longer a big tent, but a big umbrella.

    April 29, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. Bea from Texas

    While W was not the best President we had, i have to say i don't think he was as hateful as some of the G.O.Ps we have right now;......no rebranding can help the G.O.P as long as we have anti black, anti gay anti everything that is not them.....

    April 29, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  15. GOP = 21st century dodo

    The GOP has spent the past 30 years alienating EVERYONE. I doubt this will make people forget all the ugliness.

    April 29, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  16. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    There's nothing wrong with being "the party of `no'"–"No" is frequently the right answer. If your kid asks to borrow a the car keys so he can go to a bar and get wasted, what's the right answer? NO.

    What about the kid who asks if he can jump off the roof using a pillowcase as a parachute? Your 13-year-old daughter asking if it's okay to go out with a guy just released from prison for molesting 13-year-old girls?

    "No" is a really useful word, and as far as I'm concerned it's ideally used when an out-of-control government undertakes to borrow a trillion dollars it has almost no hope of repaying anytime within the next few decades and waste it. It's a good response when a power-grabbing government asserts its intent to stick its all-too-intrusive nose further into things that are none of its Constitutional business, like health care and education.

    So, NO!

    (BTW, I'm not a Republican, though I used to be. I've become what Republicans used to be, a Libertarian.)

    April 29, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  17. GOP = 21st century dodo

    "I think we also need to give a lot of people some simple math courses"

    Ok, I'll take some simple math courses if you and the remaining 21% that identify themselves as Republicans take some basic logic classes.

    April 29, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  18. Mushmouth

    I believe its called a circle, jerk

    April 29, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  19. Angie in Ohio

    Well they can try and rebrand themselves, but it will still give off the same OLD stink!

    April 29, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  20. Mike in Texas

    To ellynn sky.. Spare me your not looking out for our future. Our society is about instant gratification. They want everything now and fast. We are greedy. Worry about the consequences later. You are so blind to reality. If people really care about their children's future they would quit running up credit card debt, limit their tv viewing, cook healthy meals and be a part of their children's lives. We are a nation that lives in debt, and are fat and lazy and sit around and blame others. I think we should all take a look in the mirror before pointing fingers at others. This isn't a Republican or Democratic issue, it is an American issue and all individuals need to take accountability.

    April 29, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  21. Mike in Texas

    To Henry Miller. Did you say no to Bush when he borrowed trillions to fund a bogus war?

    April 29, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  22. sprkl12000

    Where is Micheal Steele???

    April 29, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  23. dace

    What are they changing from the party of hate, intolerance, lies, financial destruction, war crimes, and NO to anything helpful to just plain old KKK? Or the new confederacy or the Theocracy zealots for super rich white males and the ignorant and hate filled. Purge the zealots and fire your leader the obese rabid drug addict radio lord and faux as you leaders and then maybe you have a hope.

    April 29, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  24. K. Latta

    The image crisis isn't the only problem the GOP have. They have moved too far towards right wing extremism and too far from their roots. People who are identified as their "leaders", like Limbaugh and Steele, are trying to push their extremist views on others, thus losing supporters. What they need to do is cull the party of these extremist elements and focus on helping America and not their self image.

    April 29, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  25. well...

    it's a good idea. hope it will be better than the recent anti-everything blather that has been coming from them.

    we all just want what is best for the country

    April 29, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
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