Thursday, May 23, 2013
Josh Lederman and Thomas Beaumont/The Associated Press
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FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's annual birthday fundraiser in Altoona, Iowa. Rubio and other prominent Republicans are calling for a sweeping review of how to prevent tragedies like the Newtown, Conn., massacre. For years, Republicans have adhered fiercely to their bedrock conservative principles, resisting Democratic calls for tax hikes, comprehensive immigration reform and gun control. Now, seven weeks after an electoral drubbing, some party leaders and rank-and-file alike are signaling a willingness to bend on all three issues. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
And gun control has for decades been anathema to Republicans. But a Washington Post/ABC News poll published last week, following the Connecticut shooting, showed 54 percent of Americans now favor stronger restrictions.
This is the backdrop as Republicans undergo a period of soul-searching after this fall's electoral shellacking. Romney became the fifth GOP nominee in six elections to lose the national popular vote to the Democratic candidate. Republicans also shed seats in their House majority and lost ground to majority Democrats in the Senate.
Of particular concern is the margin of loss among Hispanics, a group Obama won by about 70 percent to 30 percent.
It took only hours after the loss for national GOP leaders to blame Romney for shifting to the right on immigration — and signal that the party must change.
Jindal, a prospective 2016 presidential contender, was among the Republicans calling for a more measured approach by the GOP. And even previously hardline opponents of immigration reform — like conservative talk show host Sean Hannity — said the party needs to get over its immigration stance heavily favoring border security over other measures.
"What you have is agreement that we as a party need to spend a lot of time and effort on the Latino vote," veteran Republican strategist Charlie Black said.
When Congress returned to Washington after the election to start a debate over taxes and spending, a number of prominent Republicans, including Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, signaled they would be willing to abandon their pledges against raising taxes — as long as other conditions were met — as part of a package of proposals to avoid a catastrophic budget meltdown.
Leading the effort was Boehner, who has told Obama he would allow taxes to be increased on the wealthiest Americans, as well as on capital gains, estates and dividends, as part of a deal including spending cuts and provisions to slow the growth of entitlements. Obama, meanwhile, also has made concessions in the talks to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff by agreeing to a higher income threshold for tax rate increases, while insisting that Congress grant him the authority to raise the debt ceiling. Both sides have spent the past several weeks bickering over the terms.
While some Democrats quickly called for more stringent gun laws, most Republicans initially were silent. And their virtual absence from the debate suggested that some Republicans who champion gun rights at least may have been reconsidering their stances against firearms restrictions.
By the Monday after the Connecticut shooting, MSNBC talk show host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, called for reinstating the ban on assault-style weapons, which he had opposed. The ban expired in 2004, despite support for the ban from Republican President George W. Bush. Referring to the shooting, Scarborough said: "I knew that day that the ideologies of my past career were no longer relevant to the future that I want, that I demand, for my children."
The next day, Grassley and Kingston were among the Republicans saying they were at least willing to discuss stronger gun laws.
"The party is at a point where it wants to have those discussions in public, where people feel comfortable differing from what is perceived as the party orthodoxy," Republican consultant Dan Hazelwood said.
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