| Strategist tells GOP crowd their "messaging" is wrong, not their principles
by Brian Leubitz
The California Republican Party is having its semi-annual big event this weekend. It isn't exactly notable for the impact it will have on the state, more for the attempts at introspection. The party formally inaugurates their new leader, likely long-time Ranch Cucamonga politician Jim Brulte, today. Brulte called the job "more like a bankruptcy workout" and seeing the big numbers on their debt ledger, it is hard to argue.
But the national civil war between the grassroots of the party and some of its establishment, like Karl Rove, is in full swing here. The party is looking at a more diverse and moderate electorate than they can really appeal to. The Todd Akin controversy came roaring back onto the scene when Celeste Greig, the head of the Reagan-dubbed "conscience of the Republican Party", the California Republican Assembly, stepped in a pile of dung. Her comments, entirely refutable if you actually read the science are really quite hard to discern from Akin's comments that she was intending to put down as poor form.
"That was an insensitive remark," Greig said. "I'm sure he regretted it. He should have come back and apologized."
She then went on, however, to agree with Akin's premise that such pregnancies are uncommon.
"Granted, the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it's an act of violence, because the body is traumatized," she added. "I don't know what percentage of pregnancies are due to the violence of rape. Because of the trauma the body goes through, I don't know what percentage of pregnancy results from the act."(HuffPo)
Who knows what Greig was going for here, but facts don't seem to be the intended destination. She clearly doesn't understand how the body works, and is probably best to stay away from the topic. You would have thought somebody, having observed the Akin mess, would know not to go there. But apparently not, and Greig tread on, not exactly following Rove's instructions that came later to change the messaging.
For his part, Rove went delicately into the fray, careful to indicate that the party "shouldn't lose its principles." However, they should try to repackage them into a tidy package that makes Californians, and Americans more generally, forget about the Bush years (his doing) and the terrible rancor emerging from the House these days. Given that this is California, and Latinos are soon to become (if not already) the largest demographic group in the state, that is a lot of repackaging. But Rove says maybe it is time for a little flexibility, rather than demanding ideological purity.
"We're going to have to have a little forbearance in listening to the ideas and suggestions of other people in our party about how we modernize ourselves and get ready for the next contests in the future," Rove said, "because we don't own all the answers right now. I don't want to snuff out the next Jack Kemp by saying well, don't worry, he's not a principled person." ...
"Losing has one great benefit to it," Rove said. "It gives you the chance to start fresh to look everything anew and start rebuilding from the ground up in innovative and thoughtful ways that will expand our reach and expand our members."(Steven Harmon/BANG)
That may be true, but color me unconvinced that the CRP is really looking at ditching their litmus tests. While Tom Del Beccarro calls Prop 8 a "difficult issue" for the CRP, his party is also missing the pulse wildly on gun control and immigration and a host of other issues. The state rejected the anti-tax and anti-labor rhetoric last fall, and the CRP continues to try to go back to the same well.
While the supermajority rules should be completely eliminated, they could make a revitalized Republican Party matter in California again. But they need to change more than their messaging if they want to be really viable in this state.