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. Margaret Dernier

    Hey, I like the Party of No! No liars like most of the democrat party, No political hacks like Obama(specter finally left), No tax cheats like most of Obama's cabinet position, No socialism where Obama is taking America, No putting our children and grandchildren into debt which Obama is doing. Better the Party of No then the Party of Losers like the democrats.

    April 29, 2009 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  2. Mickey, New York

    Yea, right...kind of like trying to pick up a turd by the clean end.

    April 29, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  3. deborah gortmans

    I give the President an A for the answering of the question tonight. He answerd each question one right after the other without even stopen. The question made sence and I don't think anyone could do the same as he did for 1hour, or any better.

    April 29, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  4. Doug Fekete

    What no Sarah Palin? Who are they going to blame when it backfires?

    April 29, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  5. Too Late

    Pitiful, hateful, exclusive, bitter losers. Know this: America has changed for the best of us all. This is not your daddy's country anymore, it belongs to all Americans. ALL AMERICANS!!
    IT IS OUR COUNTRY! So you can love it or Leave It! But note; No
    country in the world would tolerate republicans, except for Iran. Maybe
    the Taliban group will accept you as brothers, you all do share the same theological philosophy.

    April 29, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  6. David in West Virginia

    Surprise, Surprise. The new philosophy of the Repbulican Party is a new Initiative on how to put the screws to all Americans. First it was Contract with America, Newt; how his initiative The National Council for a New America. I must say that after George W. and Dick Cheney and Company, we now have a new America. It's called BANKRUPT. Whose brillance was this, Karl Rove or Tom Delay or Dick Cheney? Sad, but true, this is the same old Bull, just a different day.

    April 29, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  7. Alia

    Henry, don't forget the other important questions:

    Is Global Warming a threat/real? No

    Should there be a separation of Church and State? No

    Should we stop spending billions/trillions on wars and instead invest that money in our own country (infrastructure, health care, education) and help our people thrive? No

    Sadly, the only times they seem to say yes are when it comes to banning gay marriage, eliminating sex education and family planning, and eliminating a woman's right to choose (because the conservative line is that the government should interfere and make personal private decisions for us, right?) advocating torture, eliminating privacy (unless they're the ones whose privacy might potentially be infringed), gun rights, and teaching creationism.

    With regard to the mass spending, yes, that concerns me, but I also realize that these are extraordinary circumstances which require unusual measures. I'm so glad we're so concerned with mortgaging our childrens' future, yet those same people who wave this argument around are also the very ones against measures to address the failing health of our environment. Our children and grandchildren need a planet to live on before they can worry about paying down any debt we leave them.

    April 29, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  8. Tariq

    Wow! the guy who lost the election... and the brother of the guy who tainted the election........good luck with that re-branding!

    The answer to re-branding is right under your nose but extreme conservatives will never accept it..........it is letting people like Bobby Jindal just be himself, it is letting people like Charlie Crist be the voice of the party....and shutting up the destructive, divisive, and idiotic voices of the Limbaughs, the Coulters, and the Steeles inthat same order.

    April 29, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  9. deborah gortmans

    He did a good job, Its going to take longer then 100 days ,I gave him an A for what hes done so far. It takes Congress along with him to do anything, If they don't work along with him, he won't be able to do anything! Deborah Gortmans, Livermore Falls, Maine

    April 29, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  10. Alex

    I bet I can guess their "new" ideas....SMALLER GOVERNMENT and TAX CUTS.

    There are two things that Republicans want government to do: 1) Pay for cops and jails to keep poor people away from themselves and their rich cronies. They prefer these people die off without health care or go to jail when they steal to survive on the slave wages they want the majority to live on. 2) Pay for the biggest, strongest military to make sure we can bomb any country that doesn't cooperate with the policies that make them and their cronies as rich as possible.

    Everything else, they snidely refer to as "entitlement spending." WAKE UP, America. The feudal system is what they want to return us to, so long as they and their friends get to be the Lords. Republicans tell poor, disadvantaged people to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." They leave out the part where they steal their boots.

    April 29, 2009 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  11. blackminorcapullets

    Wow – lots of people here only see race, sex, class.

    Its all about Marx, isnt it.

    Nothing about ideas...or ideals. How very sad to live in a post renaissance era.

    April 29, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  12. arithmetic is liberal

    New GOP same as the first
    But a whole lot whiter and a whole lot worse.

    The Democrats believe in the audacity of hope.

    The Neo-cons (I can't really call that 21% Republicans) believe in the mendacity of nope.

    April 29, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  13. Will

    The "Real" Republican party faithful left in 1980 with John Anderson to become independents. The rain of moderate, even liberal, continues to fall outside the present Republican party or so it calls itself. We are not real Democrats, but have enogh sense to vote for Amweica's best.

    April 29, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  14. MoCrash

    How come the "National Council for a New America" is mostly the same old Republicans with the same old programs?

    Reagan, Bush I, Bush II - been there, done that. Time to move on.

    April 29, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  15. Hilary

    If you put lipstick on a pig it's still a pig.

    April 29, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  16. John in AZ

    Dialogue is always good. I don't understand why Republicans need to sound so desperate though. Re-branding can be organic, leaders should emerge naturally...not be hand-selected by the old guard. If Republicans would just stop licking their wounds they might stand a chance at a comeback sooner rather than later. All they've done since they lost the election is make announcements and name people as new leaders...enough already!

    April 29, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  17. joe in Orlando

    This sounds more like a photo opportunity and media event than an honest self evaluation by the Republicans. Much like how they teabagged themselves a week or two ago.

    I was a college republican in the '80s but left them when they seemed more interested in wedge issues to divide the country and conquer than solve the country's problems.

    Did anyone notice that the "red" states are mainly just the old south and a few plains states? And that it's membership is almost exclusively white?

    The reason is the Republican party today is just the remaining remnants of the old Dixiecrats in the south that left the Democratic party when the Democrats voted and passed the Equal Voting Rights amendments in the '60s and that pissed off the pro-segregation crowd like Jesse Helms of NC and Strom Thurmond of SC.

    This is their legacy.

    April 29, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  18. Richie

    Rebrand the Republicans... Let's see... How about "The Party of HATE and FEAR"? Or "Red Necks United"? How about the OWGP (Old White Guys Party)?

    April 29, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  19. Steph

    Yeah, good luck with that!

    April 29, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  20. Dbow


    April 29, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  21. TXDave

    The Republican are a bunch of useless outdated phoneys! Same BS, new coverup!

    April 29, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  22. Jeff

    The "Grand Old Pity Party". They should just give it up.

    April 29, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  23. Dbow

    The Banana Republican Party. There's your new brand, now beat it.

    April 29, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  24. Dbow

    Hey token Bobby.

    April 29, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  25. Nosh

    LoL.I think they want to prove that didn't listen to people so far and now they want to go around and listen to American, last time Mccain and Sara were around they just sprede hate and fear insted of listening to american.

    April 29, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
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