"Reeling congressional Republicans launched a new policy effort days after their latest setback - the sudden defection of Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to the Democrats," the Boston Globe writes. "House GOP Whip Eric Cantor announced yesterday that the National Council for a New America will hold its first event tomorrow in suburban Washington, D.C. Expected to attend are: Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who ran for president last year and could run again in 2012; Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, another possible 2012 contender; Jeb Bush, the former president's brother and former governor of Florida; and Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, a former national GOP chairman."
The Washington Post: "GOP officials have complained that their alternative proposals to bills pushed through by the Democratic Congress have not received enough attention from the media and thus have been ignored by most Americans. They hope that using high-profile figures such as Bush will ensure that voters learn more about Republicans' ideas."
Politico's Smith on the new National Council for a New America: It "launched with an open letter that's notable for what it leaves out: The issues that a large segment of the party's base are most passionate about. The letter, signed by 14 congressional Republican leaders, makes no mention of same-sex marriage, immigration -- legal or otherwise -- or abortion."
Peggy Noonan asks: What should the GOP do? "If it is alive, and it is, it will evolve, as living things do. Beyond that, a thought. A great party needs give. It must be expansive and summoning. It needs to say, 'Join me.'… Great parties are coalitions, and coalitions contain disparate and sometimes warring pieces. FDR's coalition contained Southern Democrats from Birmingham and socialists from the Bronx. They didn't agree on much, but they agreed on some essentials, such as "the New Deal is good" and "government should be harnessed to help the little guy." It was imperfect and in time evolved but its success demonstrated that a great party needs give."
"The Republican National Committee is riven by a dispute between Chairman Michael Steele and a faction of RNC establishment veterans that threatens to undermine Steele's ability to put his stamp on the national party," Politico writes of the ongoing story first reported by the Washington Times. "The latest flashpoint is an acrimonious, increasingly public fight over control of the GOP's finances that pits Steele's team of consultants and younger RNC members against a contingent of longtime committee members who opposed his election and remain distrustful of his leadership."
Newt to the rescue: "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) defended Michael Steele on Thursday against GOP critics, explaining that the Republican National Committee chairman has yet to learn the 'art of massaging the egos' at the RNC. 'Steele is a huge shock because he is different," Gingrich said during an interview on C-SPAN's 'Washington Journal.' 'He is not just different because he is an African-American; he's different because he is a free spirit,' Gingrich said. 'He's used to saying what he thinks. He's controversial. He has enormous energy and great self-confidence."'"