GOP leaders don't just want to be the party of "no" -- but they have a hard time articulating what they want to say "yes" to.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina -- Republicans are trying to refashion the party in the wake of their 2012 defeat. But they keep running into a problem: They can't agree on what the party's positive agenda ought to be.
Preventing President Obama and Democrats from doing things they don't like doesn't constitute a governing platform. Should the GOP take a more moderate position on immigration reform, which is popular with the public as a whole and could help the GOP with Hispanics? How about gun control, where large public majorities disagree with NRA-style Second Amendment absolutism? Are hardline Republican stances on gay marriage and abortion alienating young voters and women? Taxes and spending have been the party's traditional strength, but Obama had the public on his side in raising taxes on the wealthy, and he used Paul Ryan's proposals for trimming entitlements as a bludgeon in the presidential campaign. And when it comes to a foreign policy, Republicans are all over the map.
This is the real crisis facing the GOP: Articulating a set of stances on issues that majorities of voters agree with, in a way that convinces people they'd be able to govern if given the chance.
At the Republican National Committee's winter meeting in Charlotte this week, I posed the question, parlor-game-style, to a wide swath of GOP leaders from all over the country: What did they think the party ought to stand for? If they recited the mantra of "smaller government, lower taxes," I tried to get them to say what significant parts of the government they'd reduce and whose taxes they would cut. Here are some of the answers I got.