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GOP future: Forget one for the Gipper?

The New York Times reports that some Republicans are wondering if they must move beyond Ronald Reagan. At last week's Republican Governors Association meeting, "there was even the suggestion, made gingerly and reverently, that Republicans could not continue to make 'Ronald Reagan' the answer to every question at a time when they are overwhelmingly losing the young voters who were children, or were not yet born, when he was president. That was the implication of Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, who told the group of fellow Republican governors that Reagan was one of his heroes, and recalled being spat at by a hippie while volunteering for one of his campaigns. 'But Ronald Reagan was president a long time ago,' Mr. Pawlenty said. 'A lot has happened since then. So the challenge for us is how do you take the principles from the late '70s and '80s and apply them to the circumstances and issues and opportunities of our time.'"

Bill Kristol speculates if Bush will follow in Herbert Hoover's footsteps: make it even more difficult for Republicans to appeal to voters on economic issues. "From 1933 to 1980, Republicans repeatedly failed to convince the country they were no longer the party of Herbert Hoover -- the party, as it was perceived, of economic incompetence, austerity and recession (if not depression)."

"Only two Republicans won presidential elections in that half-century, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. Both were able to take the White House only because we were mired down in difficult wars, in Korea and Vietnam. And Ike and Nixon were unable -- they didn't really try -- to change the generally liberal course of domestic and economic policy. The G.O.P.'s fate on Capitol Hill was worse. The party controlled Congress for only 4 of those 47 years. That's what happens when a depression begins on your watch and when you can't offer a coherent explanation of how and why it occurred and what you are going to do differently."   

Politico's Martin writes that "GOP officials and strategists at party conferences last week offered sharply contrasting assessments of what went wrong, and of how difficult it will be to rebuild. Perhaps not surprisingly, the split tended to fall along generational lines. Older party hands pointed to John McCain's lackluster campaign and the difficult terrain Republicans found themselves battling on this year, and eschewed any sky-is-falling rhetoric. The up-and-comers, meanwhile, sounded the alarm of impending permanent minority status unless the party changes."  

Tom Edsall: "...GOP aspirants face the possibility of a nightmare scenario: taking the helm of a party so weighed down by doctrinaire hard-liners and hectoring moralists that no one, especially an RNC chair, will be able to change course and avoid a tsunami of culturally disinhibited, secularizing 'creatives,' Hispanics, African Americans, and a young netroot-savvy demographic cohort larger than the Baby Boom."

The incoming No.2 leader in the House for the GOP, Eric Cantor, gave an interview to the Washington Times. Cantor "said the Republican Party in Washington is no longer 'relevant' to voters and must stop simply espousing principles. Instead, it must craft real solutions to health care and the economy. 'Where we have really fallen down is, we have lacked the ability to be relevant to people's lives. Let's set aside the last eight years, and our falling down in living up to expectations of what we said we were going to do,' Mr. Cantor told The Washington Times in his district office outside of Richmond. 'It's the relevancy question.'"

Just what did Newt Gingrich mean when he said Sarah Palin would only be one of 20-30 players in the future of the party? That's not exactly a ringing endorsement.

It looks like Florida GOP Chair Jim Greer's potential RNC chair bid will end before it starts. Some questions about the state party's lavish spending have now made it into the FL media spotlight.

Speaking of the RNC chair race, apparently ex-UT Gov. Mike Leavitt, who is leaving the Bush administration as HHS secretary, is pondering the race.