March 20, 2013 — The Republican National Committee on Monday released a report that urges "drastic changes to almost every major element of the modern Republican Party" -- including its messaging on reproductive health issues -- in the wake of GOP losses in the 2012 elections, The Hill's "Hill Tube" reports (Joseph/Easley, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 3/18).
RNC Chair Reince Priebus unveiled the 98-page report at a news conference at the National Press Club. Priebus said, "There's no one reason we lost" in 2012, adding, "Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren't inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement."
The report dedicates many pages to the need for the GOP to better connect with minority, female and young voters. It suggests that comprehensive immigration reform would be a first step toward that goal.
The report also cites the results of post-election focus groups, which found that voters generally described Republicans as "'stuffy old men'" who are "'scary,' 'narrow minded,' and 'out of touch'" (Haberman, Politico, 3/18). The report states, "Many female voters feel that Washington, D.C., is a city full of politicians that simply don't listen and don't understand what their daily lives are like" (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/18).
According to Politico, the report offers few specifics on how to address the GOP's problems. For example, the report notes that Republicans lost the "war on women" messaging battle in 2012, but it does not clearly state how the party should handle the issue in the future. The report makes no specific references to abortion, Planned Parenthood or other issues that drew increased attention to female voters' decisions on candidates last year (Politico, 3/18).
Groups on Both Sides of Abortion-Rights Debate Criticize Report
Planned Parenthood Action Fund Vice President Dawn Laguens in a memo wrote, "The report appears to blame voter turnout operations, messaging, and other tactical failures for the GOP's losses in 2012 and utterly fails to recognize that the candidates' positions on women's health were defining and decisive issues." She added, "Candidates who would limit access to birth control, overturn Roe v. Wade, and defund Planned Parenthood lost in November because the majority of voters disagree with their agenda" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/18).
Meanwhile, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a statement said the RNC is taking the wrong lessons from the 2012 election. "Rather than seeking to grow and mobilize the energetic pro-life majority, the GOP has allowed itself to operate solely on the defensive," she said, adding, "Social issues are keys to reaching certain minorities the GOP yearns to attract, as well as to motivate millions of voters who first gravitated to the party as Reagan Democrats" (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/18).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership