Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET
hope to recapture the White House in the foreseeable future, they
basically need to sound and campaign more like Democrats.
The report does not literally advise Republicans to mirror their opposition, but that's one way of looking at a Republican National Committee report
officially released Monday that offers the party a way forward after
its 2012 failure to defeat President Obama, who was long seen as
vulnerable because of a relatively high jobless rate and uninspiring
Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, made it clear during a Washington speech that the Republican officials
who produced the report after conducting research and voter focus
groups didn't find that it was the party's ideology that made it
unattractive to so many voters, especially women and minorities.
Instead, it was how Republican officials and candidates delivered their message to voters that failed the party, Priebus said.
was also the party's failure at voter outreach and its insular
tendencies, which led it to speak more to party faithful than outsiders,
that doomed its efforts, at least on the national level, Priebus said:
be clear, our principles are sound. Our principles are not old, rusty
thoughts in some book. Freedom and opportunity are ever-fresh
"They're the road map to American renewal in a new and interconnected world.
the report notes that the way we communicate our principles isn't
resonating widely enough. Focus groups described our party as
narrow-minded, out of touch and, quote, 'stuffy old men.' ... The
perception that we're the party of the rich, unfortunately, continues to
grow. That's frustrating because we care about every voter."
one recommendation was that the party work hard to rebrand the GOP,
which has long stood for Grand Old Party, into the "growth and
While few Republicans disagree with their
party's need to appeal to more voters, the report's authors triggered
controversy with their recommendation for changes to the presidential
They recommended condensing the lengthy period
for primaries, ostensibly to move the convention up to early summer
instead of late summer to allow the nominee more time to campaign in the
Another recommendation was for the party to jettison the practice of caucuses like in Iowa, in favor of primaries.
The report's authors argue that primaries can bring new voters to
Republican candidates unlike caucuses that tend to attract party
Both changes could increase the advantages of an
establishment candidate, however, which makes them anathema with
non-establishment Republicans like those in the Tea Party movement.
That the report's authors
were all part of the establishment, with some having ties to the two
Bush presidents and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, likely won't make that
recommendation more palatable to many in the Republican grassroots.
report also recommended that Republicans try shifting their messaging
in other ways, which to some observers may make them sound more like
Democrats. From the report:
Republican Party must be the champion of those who seek to climb the
economic ladder of life. Low-income Americans are hardworking people who
want to become hardworking middle-income Americans. Middle-income
Americans want to become upper-middle-income, and so on. We need to help
everyone make it in America.
"We have to blow the whistle at
corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out
when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but
rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs
receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but
middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years."
report didn't mention Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's
infamous "47 percent" gaffe or how his background as head of a
private-equity firm, whose executives became richer while some workers
from companies they restructured were laid off, hurt his campaign. But
that clearly seemed to be on the mind of the report's authors.
Obama won re-election partly due to his campaign's use of the latest
technologies for voter-outreach efforts, which were constantly tweaked.
Obama's campaign was also deeply informed by social science research
that showed that voters contacted by neighbors instead of robocalls were
much more likely to turn out on Election Day for the president.
Republicans clearly intend to copy these and other practices.
none of this will make much difference if the party doesn't address its
weaknesses with certain demographic groups like Latinos, who gave more
than 70 percent of their votes to the president.
To this end,
the recommendation was for Republicans to intensively reach out to
organizations and communities they have fully or largely ignored.
"We will take
our message to civic centers and community events where people live,
work and worship. This new approach will be diverse, year-round,
community-based and dedicated to person-to-person engagement. By May 1st
we will hire national political directors for Hispanic, Asian-Pacific
and African-American voters.
"We will task each director to
build the team to educate each community on the history and principles
of the Republican Party and identify supporters.
"This will be a
bottom-up approach and will have a network of hundreds of paid people
across America, from the community level up to the national level,
dedicated to minority, youth and women inclusion. We will conduct a
pilot program in targeted urban markets to test and refine these