Chastened GOP Drops Red Meat

Jan 18, 2007 5:28pm

ABC News’ Tahman Bradley Reports: In his parting words at a gathering of Republican activists and party leaders, outgoing Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman did not offer the usual GOP red meat, instead he chose to rein in the partisan rhetoric and call for a bipartisan approach to his party’s way forward.

Reflecting on Republican’s loss of their House, Senate and gubernatorial majorities in the 2006 election, Melhman said "for Republicans, this must be a time for self-examination…we can do better and we must be better."

Mehlman’s words were in stark contrast to Karl Rove’s rhetoric at last year’s RNC winter meeting where he hammered away at what he branded "the Democrat party," saying that Democrats were "deeply, profoundly, and consistently wrong."

This year, instead, Mehlman and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio called for the GOP to recommit itself to the cause of reform and bipartisanship. "I will always remember and we must all remember that Democrats are our political rivals, not our enemies, and they deserve our respect," Mehlman said.

Mehlman, who made minority outreach a personal focus of his tenure, said "we should all be able to pledge today that we are not going back." A symbolic demonstration of that effort can be found in Mehlman’s successor. The RNC plans to choose Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., a Cuban American, as its next general chairman.

ABC News’ Paul Fidalgo contributed to this report.

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