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Shields and Brooks Anticipate Calls for Unity at RNC

Before the third night of the Republican convention, columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss what's likely ahead from speakers trying to rally the party.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    David, it seems — particularly picking up on what Andy and Amy said — there's a huge mission on the table of the Republican Party, not only at this convention, but generally between now and these next 60 days, correct?

    DAVID BROOKS, columnist, New York Times: Well, as Amy said, the train is on the tracks and they've got to shift it. They thought they had a very good month leading up to this convention, or at least leading up to the Democratic convention.

    They ran a series of ads lampooning Obama. They pulled very close or even or maybe even slightly ahead in the polls. And then Obama had his convention. It was successful for the Democrats.

    And then they picked Palin, and they picked her because they thought the reformer would take them out of the left-right and make it a maverick ticket. That worked for about six hours. And then the story broke about her daughter.

    And when it broke about her daughter, it became about reproductive rights, about reproduction. It became about mommy wars and culture wars. And within very few hours, what had been a maverick pick became a base pick, became a social conservative versus non-social conservative pick.

    And so, in the last 36 hours, they feel they've been blown off-course. They want to get back so it's more of a maverick pick, less pleasing to the Evangelicals here and more pleasing to the world at large.

    And that's really what they've got to try to do tonight, to shift it away from the reproductive rights stuff back to the stuff they want to talk about, which is taking on the Republican establishment.

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