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Republican leader says party seen as scary and narrow-minded, calls for changes

Following a monthslong review, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, says the party needs to reach out to young people and minorities and reform its process for picking presidential candidates.
by Chris Casteel Published: March 19, 2013

— People see the national Republican Party as narrow-minded and primarily for the rich, the party's national chairman said here Monday while unveiling a plan to restructure the organization and focus more on diversity.

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said the party can grow and win national elections without compromising its principles if Republicans do a better job communicating with young voters and recruiting minority and women candidates.

Priebus, who asked party elders such as former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to conduct a review of the party following President Barack Obama's re-election last year, said the report finds no single reason for the GOP's loss.

“Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren't inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement,” Priebus said at the National Press Club.

The report analyzes most aspects of the party's operation, including how it picks its presidential nominees. Priebus said the party needs fewer debates, a shortened primary process and an earlier national convention.

The report says the party should discourage caucuses and conventions in states and encourage primaries since they include more people.

‘Scary,' ‘narrow-minded'

The report, compiled after contacts with 50,000 people, also says Republicans have to do a better job talking in “normal, people-oriented terms.”

Focus groups were conducted in Columbus, Ohio, and Des Moines, Iowa, to listen to voters who recently left the party.

“Asked to describe Republicans, they said that the Party is ‘scary,' ‘narrow-minded,' and ‘out of touch' and that we were a Party of ‘stuffy old men,'” the report says. “This is consistent with the findings of other postelection surveys.”

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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Whenever a party loses a presidential election as important as the one in 2012, it ought to engage in serious reflection and analysis.”

Rep. Tom Cole,


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