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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 22, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 12
A pink Republican elephant? - Party leaders call for outreach to LGBT voters
Section One
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A pink Republican elephant? - Party leaders call for outreach to LGBT voters

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In what Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus has called an 'autopsy' on the GOP's failed 2012 campaign, Republican Party leaders admit they will never win another national election if they do not reach out to people of color, women, youth, and the LGBT community.

The 100-page Growth and Opportunity Project report, released March 18, recommends a $10 million campaign aimed at restoring the party's reputation among all the demographic sectors Mitt Romney lost in 2012.

'For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view,' the report states.

'Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of Gays - and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.'

SHORT ON SPECIFICS
While the report does not specifically mention marriage equality or call for the adoption of a national position on LGBT rights, it does recommend campaigning within the LGBT community and 'communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case.'

'We need to campaign among Hispanic, Black, Asian, and Gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too. We must recruit more candidates who come from minority communities,' the report states.

'The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,' the report continues.

'We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.'

PRIEBUS PRAISES PORTMAN
Priebus commissioned the project to examine how his party could bounce back from the disastrous 2012 campaign. Charged with making recommendations in a number of key areas necessary for winning elections, the co-chairs of the project reportedly contacted more than 52,000 people through a series of polls and focus groups.

The report was released only three days after Republican Sen. Rob Portman, once said to be on Mitt Romney's vice presidential 'short list,' announced that he had changed his mind on same-sex marriage after discovering that his son is Gay. Priebus referenced Portman's change of heart at a press conference after the release of the GOP report.

'I think Sen. Portman made some pretty big inroads last week,' Priebus said. 'I think it's about being decent. I think it's about dignity and respect - that nobody deserves to have their dignity diminished, or people don't deserve to be disrespected.

'It's not a matter of whether I support his decision,' Priebus continued. 'I support him doing what he wants to do as an elected person and as an American. If that's his opinion, then I support him having that opinion.'

IS THIS FOR REAL?
Gregory Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said Priebus's statement shows that the GOP is serious about attracting LGBT voters.

'Of all the underrepresented populations with which the GOP needs to make inroads, acknowledging the party's deficiencies in addressing LGBT voters would not only broaden support among Gay voters, but increase appeal among the youth vote that is critical to the longevity of the Republican Party,' Angelo said in a statement.

'With more and more Republicans coming to support civil marriage for all and standing on the right side of history, the party needs to understand the reality that growth and opportunity in the Republican Party will only happen by including gay Americans in the equation.'

STEELE SKEPTICAL
Former RNC Chair Michael Steele, on the other hand, claimed that he also advocated outreach to youth and communities of color, but faced a wall of resistance from other party officials.

'Reince seems to think parroting me or creating another top-down structure is somehow going to lead to disaffected voters turning to the party,' Steele told The Washington Examiner. 'If this was such a priority for him or anyone else at the RNC, then why wasn't it in 2012?'

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