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GOP's future: Looking in the mirror

The New York Times, covering the first day of the Republican Governors Association meeting in Miami, writes: "As the Republican Party prepares to enter the political wilderness after its losses this month, the group that many consider its future — the Republican governors — met here on Wednesday to talk about what went wrong, and what to do next. Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who was very nearly Senator John McCain's running mate this year, told the decidedly subdued, postelection conference of the Republican Governors Association about a revelation he had recently while looking into the bathroom mirror at his home in Minnesota."

"Mr. Pawlenty said that after wearily returning from the campaign trail, he looked at himself in the mirror and complained about what he saw to his wife, Mary. 'I said, "Mary, look at me,"' he said. "I mean, my hairline's receding, these crow's feet and wrinkles are multiplying on my face by the day, I've been on the road eating junk food, I'm getting flabby, these love handles are flopping over the side of my belt."' 'I said, "Is there anything you can tell me that would give me some hope, some optimism, some encouragement?"' he said. 'And she looked at me and she said, "Well, there's nothing wrong with your eyesight."'"

Also reporting from Miami, the Wall Street Journal notes the two lines of thinking espoused by Republicans seeking to rebuild their brand: expand the base, or get back to basics?

"As Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin arrived in Florida for a Republican governors summit, there was a hint of a chill in the air from her potential rivals for the 2012 White House race," the New York Daily News reports. "The conference is also a showcase for up-and-coming Republican governors who might want a crack at the Oval Office themselves, including Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty, Florida's Charlie Crist and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal. And none of them was putting up Palin lawn signs. When Pawlenty said, 'Drill, baby, drill!' by itself is not an energy policy' -- referring to the chant that became a staple of Palin's rallies -- the target of his tweak was clear. … When asked if Palin was the best choice McCain could have made for a running mate, no one jumped to answer."

Palin, who holds a news conference today at the Republican Governors Association and "who clearly is looking ahead to her political prospects in 2012, said yesterday that a woman would be good for the Republican presidential ticket in four years." "I don't think it's me personally, I think it's what I represent. Everyday hardworking American families - a woman on the ticket perhaps represents that. It would be good for the ticket. It would be good for the party. I would be happy to get to do whatever is asked of me to help progress this nation."

Current RNC Chair Mike Duncan, who might seek a second term, also gives a speech at today's RGA meeting. Here are some excerpts: "At the RNC, our role is immediate and urgent: we must strengthen our party. Especially at the state level." More: "I am announcing that today the RNC is filing legal challenges in federal district courts in (Louisiana) and Washington DC to challenge the constitutionality of the current campaign finance regime. The fight over redistricting, and the ability of Republicans to compete in future state and local races is at the heart of the RNC's decision to challenge the six-year-old campaign finance system in federal court." (The RNC filing suit here could help Duncan in his attempt to looks like he's ready for another term.)

Roll Call notes that Mike Duncan's bid for reelection to the RNC chairmanship could be boosted by fellow Kentucky native Mitch McConnell. On the paper's shortlist of his potential competitors: former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.), outgoing Sen. John Sununu (N.H.), former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and outgoing Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle.

And as we wrote yesterday, Saul Anuzis has become the first announced candidate for the position.

House Minority Leader John Boehner could face a challenge for his leadership spot from Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), a Judiciary Committee member who won his reelection race in a squeaker last week.

Karl Rove has a Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which he offers a numbers-rich analysis of Obama's victory and a look forward to the next election cycle. "History will favor Republicans in 2010," Rove writes. "Since World War II, the out-party has gained an average of 23 seats in the U.S. House and two in the U.S. Senate in a new president's first midterm election. Other than FDR and George W. Bush, no president has gained seats in his first midterm election in both chambers." Another point offered by Rove: "In a sign Mr. Obama's victory may have been more personal than partisan or philosophical, Democrats picked up just 10 state senate seats (out of 1,971) and 94 state house seats (out of 5,411). By comparison, when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, Republicans picked up 112 state senate seats (out of 1,981) and 190 state house seats (out of 5,501)."