McConnell: GOP Becoming ‘Regional Party’

By Teddy Davis

Jan 29, 2009 10:31pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Ferdous Al-Faruque Report:

The country’s top-ranking Republican told party leaders on Thursday that the GOP is at risk of becoming a regional party.

[T]he Republican Party seems to be slipping into a position of being more of a regional party than a national one," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. “In politics, there’s a name for a regional party: it’s called a minority party. And I didn’t sign up to be a member of a regional party."

McConnell delivered his warning in Washington, D.C., to members of the Republican National Committee one day before party officials are slated to select a chairman to lead the GOP over the next two years.

The Kentucky Republican underscored his argument that the GOP is becoming a regional party with a couple of geographic examples.

"You can walk from Canada to Mexico and from Maine to Arizona without ever leaving a state with a Democratic governor," said McConnell. "Not a single Republican senator represents the tens of millions of Americans on the West Coast. And on the East Coast, you can drive from North Carolina to New Hampshire without touching a single state in between that has a Republican in the U.S. Senate."

So how does McConnell propose changing the GOP’s fortunes?

He thinks the answer lies in doing a better job of communicating the party’s principles, not changing them.

"As Republicans, we know that common sense conservative principles aren’t regional," said McConnell. "But I think we have to admit that our sales job has been. And in my view, that needs to change."

In particular, he raised concerns about the way in which the party has been painted by others on immigration, the environment, and the family.

"Too often we’ve let others define us. And the image they’ve painted isn’t very pretty," said McConnell. "Ask most people what Republicans think about immigrants, and they’ll say we fear them. Ask most people what we think about the environment, and they’ll say we don’t care about it. Ask most people what we think about the family and they’ll tell you we don’t — until about a month before Election Day."

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