Taking the Heat

It is easy for Democrats with healthy majorities in both houses of Congress and a president riding high in public approval to laugh at the site of the former president's brother, the House minority whip and a defeated presidential candidate sitting on stools at a pizza parlor in a Virginia suburb of Washington, trying to start a comeback for the GOP. Though the National Council for a New America hasn't exactly come up with any new policy proposals, I applaud Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) for acknowledging that when you find yourself in a hole the first thing you must do is stop digging.

Cantor, along with Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, launched the effort to re-brand the GOP last weekend in a quest to begin a dialogue with the public about solving problems and to break the image of Republicans as the Party of No. They kept their criticism of President Obama to a minimum and tried to sound non-partisan as they railed against government as the answer to everything. They also noticeably avoided the thorny topics of abortion, gay marriage and immigration.

In the days that followed, Democrats have largely kept their guffaws to themselves, and the heckling is coming from inside the tent — from those who like it small, thank you very much. From Rush Limbaugh to former Gov. Mike Huckabee the criticism keeps coming.

Limbaugh mocked it as a scam and Huckabee said "it is a sad day when our party comes to the point where we think it is necessary to form a 'listening group' to find out what Americans think we should be fighting for."

At the yes-fest Jeb Bush, brother of the most unpopular president save Richard Nixon, even had the nerve to touch the untouchable and most popular, Ronald Reagan. Bush said the party needed to move past nostalgia.

"So our ideas need to be forward-looking and relevant. I felt like there was a lot of nostalgia and the good old days in the [Republican] messaging. I mean, it's great, but it doesn't draw people toward your cause," Bush said.

To which Huckabee responded: "I am very disappointed that one of the initial comments from the group was that we need to 'get past Reagan.' Frankly the party was in pretty good shape then and can be again, but Ronald Reagan didn't summarily dismiss Values Voters like this new group of 'experts' has by not listing any of the issues that still matter to many of these common Americans this group wants to listen to."

Romney, who is running for president in 2012, knows that in order to beat an incumbent president — let alone beat Barack Obama — he will need a lot more people under that tent, and the current GOP is losing, not gaining voters. Jeb Bush is interested in saving the Republican Party, and it should be noted that Romney was always the choice of the Bush clan during the 2008 Republican primaries. Cantor is a rising Republican star who can get some serious traction out of riding these coattails. A VP short-lister for sure.

Romney, Cantor and Bush can take the heat and they should plow ahead despite the attacks.

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