Texas Republican leaders weigh in on GOP rebranding


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE


Posted on March 18, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 18 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- A path to Republican victory was one of the main themes at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC.  

The annual gathering of conservative voices drew two of Texas' most high-profile Republicans. Addressing conference goers Thursday, former Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) bristled at the suggestion that the outcome of the last two presidential elections prove the nation is moving away from conservative ideals.
"That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012," said Perry, issuing a direct shot at 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and 2008 nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
"Now we're told our party must shift appeal to the growing Hispanic demographic," Perry continued. "Let me say something about what appeals to Hispanics in states like Texas. It is the free enterprise agenda that allows small businesses to prosper free of government interference. It's the policies that value the family unit as the best and closest form of government. It's the belief in life and the faith in God. No one who risked life and limb to reach our shores comes here looking for a government handout."
Top billing this year at CPAC went to the Lone Star State's newly-elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Delivering the keynote speech Saturday, Cruz argued Republicans should double down on conservative principals. Cruz referred to spending cuts under the budget sequester and Sen. Rand Paul's (R-KY) filibuster over drones during the nomination of new CIA director John Brennan as recent conservative victories.
"I'm going to tell you a dirty little secret that somehow the mainstream media won't pass onto you," Cruz said. "For the last three weeks, conservatives have been winning." 
Republican candidates have failed to win the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, a record of which national party leaders are acutely aware. In an effort to find a path forward, the Republican National Committee commissioned a comprehensive examination of the 2012 election dubbed the Growth and Opportunity Project.
On Monday, RNC chair Reince Priebus met with media to discuss the results of the report. In short, it concluded many voters see the Republican party as "out of touch," and urged a number of changes in the wake of the party's 2012 presidential defeat. 
Among the changes, the report suggested increasing outreach to "demographic partners," in particular women and Hispanics. The report also urged Republicans to reconsider how conservative messages are articulated.
The report also contained suggestions for reforming the primary process. In particular, it recommended decreasing the number of primary debates and speeding up the nomination schedule so that the party nominee will have additional time to focus solely on their Democratic opponent.
"People want us to be bold," Priebus told media. "This is an unprecedented thing for a national party to put their cards on the table face-up, but this is what we're willing to do build our party. I think it was necessary. I think people wanted the report to be real. They wanted it to be honest."  
Whether the key to victory lies therein, voters will ultimately decide.