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Rifts in GOP May Hinder Efforts to Build Unity Among Party Faithful

Rifts within the Republican Party have activists worried that infighting may hurt efforts by the GOP to rebuild following the 2008 election. Political analysts mull the effects of recent clashes among party leaders.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Now, a look at divisions within the Grand Old Party. First, some background.

    The growing debate about the future of the Republican Party spilled over on to the weekend news talk shows, but much of that debate was dominated by former, rather than current, party leaders, like former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    COLIN POWELL, former U.S. secretary of State: I have always felt that the Republican Party should be more inclusive than it generally has been over the years, and I believe we need a strong Republican Party that is not just anchored in the base, but has built on the base to include more individuals.

    And if we don't do that, if we don't reach out more, the party is going to be sitting on a very, very narrow base. And you can only do two things with a base. You can sit on it and watch the world go by, or you can build on the base.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge.

    JOHN KING, CNN anchor: Are you in the Rush Limbaugh-Dick Cheney version of the Republican Party or the Colin Powell version of the Republican Party?

    TOM RIDGE, (R), former governor of Pennsylvania: I'm in the Tom Ridge version of the party. For the Republican Party to restore itself not as a regional party, but as a national party, we have to be far less judgmental about disagreements within the party and far more judgmental about our disagreements with our friends on the other side of the aisle.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Former Bush adviser Karl Rove.

    CHRIS WALLACE, Fox News anchor: Dick Cheney said, if it's a battle between or a choice between Rush Limbaugh and Colin Powell, he sides with Limbaugh. Do you?

    KARL ROVE, former Bush adviser: Yes, if I had to pick between the two. But you know what? Neither one of those are candidates. Neither one of those are going to be people who are offering themselves for office. Again, this is a false debate that Washington loves.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

    DAVID GREGORY, host, "Meet the Press": Do you think Colin Powell is part of that Republican Party?

    NEWT GINGRICH (R), former speaker of the House: Absolutely. Absolutely.

  • DAVID GREGORY:

    You think Dick Cheney was wrong?

  • NEWT GINGRICH:

    Yes, I — I don't want to pick a fight with Dick Cheney, but I think — I think the fact is, the Republican Party has to be a broad party that appeals across the country.

    And that does so — I mean, we have the governor of Vermont, we have the governor of Rhode Island. These are not states that are traditional southern right-wing states. To be a national party, you have to have a big enough tent that you inevitably have fights inside the tent.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    But are the fights inside the tent hurting or helping the Republican Party? Judy Woodruff takes it from there.

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