The lessons the Republican National Committee learned from the 2012 elections is that both the party's message and its policy needs fixing. In its internal review of 2012 released Monday, the RNC proposes lots of superficial changes: more Latino Republicans on TV, more Republicans talking to Latino TV networks, more engagement on college campuses -- including historically black ones. "We have to stop divorcing ourselves from American culture," RNC chair Reince Priebus said Monday. But it's also recommending several policy concessions. The report says the party should support immigration reform, attack corporate welfare, accept that sometimes people need government help, and be flexible on gay marriage. It does not recommend concessions on taxes, the issue Democrats are hoping Republicans will gave on for a "grand bargain" on the deficit. The document does not mention taxes at all.
Here's what the RNC thinks will help it start winning national elections again. A recurring theme is that the party should never again nominate Mitt Romney to be president:
Embrace Immigration Reform
"In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door."
Be Flexible on Gay Rights
Republicans "need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view... [F]or many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be."
Get a Little Populist
The RNC does not sound like it would run a candidate like Mitt Romney, who ran Bain Capital, earning big fees even when the companies it took over went bankrupt or sent jobs overseas. "We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed," the report says. "We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years."
Talk to Minorities
The RNC again gently criticizes Romney in writing, "If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence." Romney said he favored self-deportation in a presidential debate. The RNC says it should promote Latinos within the organization, build a database of Latino donors, get more Republicans in Latino media and more Latino surrogates in all media, and register Latino voters at citizenship ceremonies.
In a press conference Monday, RNC chair Reince Priebus said the GOP would start meeting with groups like La Raza and the NAACP, and have a greater presence at historically black colleges and universities.
No More 47 Percent
The GOP must promote the private sector, the report says, "But we must make sure that the government works for those truly in need, helping them so they can quickly get back on their feet." No bashing poor people: "Low-income Americans are hardworking people who want to become hard-working middle-income Americans."
Stop Talking About Reagan All the Time
While Ronald Reagan was pretty great, the RNC says, the youngest people who could vote for him in 1980 are now 51.
The 23 debates meant Republicans spent almost a year attacking each other while Obama was attacking them.
The late August convention meant Romney could not spend general election funds until very late in the election. Obama was able to crush Romney with ads from April to September. The RNC wants to move nominating conventions to June or July.
Learn the Internet
Romney's campaign manager, Stuart Stevens, never tweeted. Its get-out-the-vote program crashed the morning of Election Day and never recovered. The RNC wants a new chief technology officer and to create a "culture of data and learning," Preibus said Sunday. "We cannot leave anything to intuition, gut instincts or “traditional” ways of doing things," the report says. No more faith in unskewed polls.
How are conservatives reacting?
Michelle Malkin is very unhappy with immigration reform, which she calls "amnesty." The Washington Examiner's Timothy Carney says in its anti-corporate welfare passage, the RNC attacks actions that "are unseemly, but hardly that should be illegal." The National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru says the RNC's faith that Republican governors show a way forward is overly optimistic -- those governors either lead red states or were voted into office during the GOP wave of 2009-2010.