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The New GOP Playbook: More Outreach, Fewer Debates

Supporters of Sen. Rand Paul watch as he addresses the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Republican Party officials are openly charting a course out of the political wilderness, and say they hope to emerge on the other side no longer seeming like a “stuffy” group of old men and instead appealing to a broader coalition of voters.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Sunday in previewing a major rollout that he envisions a party that does outreach to minority groups and better connects with the middle class. He’d also like to see for 2016 a truncated primary schedule, fewer debates and an earlier nominating convention to free up the contender for a summer of battle.

The changes are crucial to better relate to voters and to “learn how to learn the heart war,” a problem that has prevented the GOP from winning the last two presidential elections, he said on CBS’ Face the Nation.

“We’re a little too bit mass focused and not focused on people’s hearts that we don’t relate to I think, average Americans more than we should,” Priebus said. “Stuffy, old guys. too much. And it really is painful to hear because reality is we’ve got a very young party. I mean, you just had Paul Ryan on, he’s 42. Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley. I mean, it’s a young party but it just kind of shows you we’ve done a lousy job of branding and marketing who we are. And so one of the things we brought out of this is not just branding and marketing around election time but year round.”

Practically, that means investing $10 million this year for “hundreds” of paid staffers across the country to engage Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian communities, he said. For too long, the GOP was a party “that parachutes into communities four months before an election,” and they couldn’t compete on that level with President Barack Obama’s campaign, which had “lived in these communities for years.”

Among the findings included in the RNC’s detailed study dubbed the Growth and Opportunity Project Report and being released Monday morning are that voters view the party as “scary” and “out of touch.” The 98-page account embraces comprehensive immigration reform, makes no reference to abortion and suggests a friendlier stance on gay rights to appeal to younger voters.

Priebus, who turns 41 Monday, will outline the forensic account, according to Politico’s Maggie Haberman. She reports that Priebus will say there is a “long list” of solutions to confront the multiple reasons why the GOP lost the last national campaign: “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.”

Ahead of the rollout, the Wall Street Journal’s Neil King looked at how the Republicans are working with Silicon Valley heavyweights to craft “a digital platform for targeting voters and donors.” (The Democratic group American Bridge 21st Century mocked the effort in this web video.)

As the RNC prepared to go public with its next steps, conservative activists gathered outside of Washington for their annual three-day confab that featured high-profile speakers, issue-driven panel discussions and the always lively exhibit hall.

On Saturday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., won the Conservative Political Action Conference presidential straw poll, following in the footsteps of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who scored victories in the 2010 and 2011 contests. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., placed a close second. That followed a series of speeches from possible 2016 contenders and a warm speech from the man who lost the party the 2012 race, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The NewsHour’s Kwame Holman on Friday night reported from CPAC, examining how the party’s most conservative loyalists are looking to the next generation. Watch Holman’s report here or below:

Holman also wrote a blog on the topic, and NewsHour’s Cindy Huang profiled a young CPAC attendee as he made his way through the convention hall.


  • Mr. Obama on Monday will nominate Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez to be Labor Secretary, replacing Hilda Solis. Perez was Maryland’s Labor Secretary before joining the Obama administration in 2009. He was the first Hispanic to serve on the Montgomery County Council.
  • The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson curtain-raises the president’s trip abroad this week, noting how Mr. Obama is working to repair a fractured relationship with Israeli officials.
  • Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Rome late Sunday to attend the inaugural mass of Pope Francis I on Tuesday in St. Peter’s Square.
  • Speaker John Boehner said on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday that he “absolutely” trusts the president but isn’t sure a grand bargain on the deficit is possible.
  • Former Obama campaign adviser David Plouffe told PBS’ Jeff Greenfield that Hillary Clinton is “probably” the strongest 2016 candidate for the Democrats.
  • Roll Call’s Joshua Miller previews the crowded Republican primary in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional district Tuesday. Former Gov. Mark Sanford is likely headed to a runoff race.
  • Reuters reports that a bipartisan group in the House is “close to completing work on a comprehensive immigration reform bill” and that aides to members in the group briefed both Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. And the Washington Post compares a plan taking shape in the Senate to what the president has outlined.
  • The Maryland General Assembly approved a bill Friday that would abolish the death penalty in the state. The measure now heads to Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is expected to sign it into law. The Washington Post’s John Wagner notes that Maryland is the sixth state in as many years to ban capital punishment. Maryland would be the 18th state overall to end the death penalty.
  • Rep. Tim Ryan will not run for governor of Ohio in 2014, the Democrat announced Friday.
  • The Michael Bloomberg-founded group Mayors Against Illegal Guns is beefing up its staff ahead of a potential vote in Congress on gun control legislation.
  • Lawmakers in North Dakota on Friday sent Gov. Jack Dalrymple two anti-abortion bills, including one that would ban the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
  • BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner finds that the gay marriage debate strongly shifted at CPAC this year.
  • TPM’s Benjy Sarlin notes that a CPAC session on courting black voters devolved into a heated shouting match on Friday.
  • The Traditional Values Coalition issued a statement about Sen. Rob Portman’s change of heart on gay marriage because his son is gay. In it, they compared Portman’s son to a drunk driver.
  • Donald Trump suggested at CPAC that the GOP is run by “very foolish or very stupid people.”
  • Journalist Craig Crawford announced that he and his longtime partner David Blank are getting married in D.C.
  • Digital First Media’s Adrienne LaFrance talked to a man who won amnesty in 1986 about what the law meant to him.
  • Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner updates her scoop: Sen. Dean Heller can’t keep his prized office space.
  • BuzzFeed notes that the Satan character in the new History Channel series “The Bible” bears a resemblance to the president.
  • Huffington Post goes all BuzzFeed on us.
  • Don’t miss the amazing “Toy Stories” from Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti.
  • The richer you are, the more likely you live on the East Coast or West Coast. That’s today’s tidbit](http://www.facethefactsusa.org/facts/east-coast-west-coast-where-money-lives/) from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA.


  • Mark Shields and David Brooks discussed the new pope, the president’s charm offensive and CPAC. While they agreed the conference isn’t representative of the GOP’s mainstream, they noted divisions emerging between the potential 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls. “Marco Rubio said something to me phenomenally stupid: We don’t need new ideas. That’s never a good thing to say, but nonetheless he’s more mainstream and moderate,” Brooks said.

Watch here or below:

  • In this week’s Doubleheader, Shields and Brooks talked with Hari Sreenivasan about the gun control debate and March Madness. Watch here or below:








Cassie M. Chew contributed to this report.

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