Nearly three months after its crushing election defeat, the Republican Party is dusting itself off and planning ahead with a series of moves aimed at ensuring they regain the Senate in 2014 and the White House two years later.
After a period of navel gazing, the GOP is showing it is pulling itself out of its slump with bold ideas to regain power.
Leading the charge is the party in Virginia, which state politicians are determined should return firmly to the red column and stop being seen as a marginal state.
Republicans in Richmond are hoping the Old Dominion will join Nebraska and Maine to become the third state to award electoral votes by Congressional district instead of on a winner-takes-all basis.
State Sen. Charles Carrico Sr. said he is introducing the bill to give smaller communities a voice equal to densely populated areas of the state. Had the changes been in effect in the 2012 presidential contest, President Barack Obama would have won only 4 of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes, instead of taking the whole enchilada.
The GOP in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — all states like Virginia with a mix of urban and rural areas — are looking to bring in similar changes as the party takes pro-active steps to stave off future poll disasters.
All of these states went for Obama in the last election but are also where Republicans have done well in state and local elections.
For its part, the Republican National Committee is supporting the effort, saying it will make the party more competitive overall. However, a spokesman Thursday was careful to point out that such decisions are for each state to make.
Carrico said his bill is motivated not to just give Republicans better chances, but to give rural voters an equal voice.
In addition to the Electoral College changes, Virginia legislators are considering a number of other election-related bills, including one that would mandate that voters must show a government-issued ID at the polls and require that anyone who undertakes voter registration efforts undergo training and take an oath to abide by the law.
The issue has been introduced in Virginia several times over the past decades, including by Democrats.
The move comes as influential Republicans are urging party members to shake off the disappointment of November’s defeat and look to a brighter future.
Leading the way is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, seen as a top candidate for the 2016 White House nomination. In a stirring speech, Jindal told the RNC Winter Meeting in Charlotte, N.C., that the way forward should be based on the premise that Republicans are united in the belief that the federal government should be something that performs only necessary functions.
“(The Democrats) want to be in charge of the federal government so they can expand it while we say we want to be in charge so we can shrink it,” Jindal said.
“The problem with that debate is it’s focused entirely on our opponent’s terms and is a small, short-sighted debate,” he added.
Instead, Jindal proposes focusing on ways that the American economy — rather than the federal government — can grow.
“We must be the party of growth. We know government is out of control and America knows that too, but we just lost the election,” Jindal said.
“We must focus on economy growth in every community in the country — not just Washington, D.C.
“We’ve fallen into that trap that says government is based in Washington, D.C.”
Newly re-elected RNC chairman Rience Preibus also said it is time to stop looking back to what went wrong on Election Day. He said he is confident that the GOP will bounce back.
“Our principles are sound,” he planned to say, according to a preview of his speech to the Charlotte meeting. “We stand for opportunity and for liberty. Freedom is always a new idea — an ever-fresh, revolutionary idea,"
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