Will CPAC aggravate divisions in GOP?

There are a lot of bad feelings among factions on the right and the annual CPAC conference, getting underway tomorrow outside of Washington, and it isn't likely there will be a meeting of the minds.

Reuters has an interesting preview:

Party leaders are in the throes of a debate over whether their ideas need to change to appeal to a wider swathe of the electorate. Those who argue for a new focus say they see hope in lawmakers who are working for immigration reform in Congress.

"When you've lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, it's a mirage to believe that the message is great and it's just been communicated ineffectively," said Republican pollster Whit Ayres.

In an interview, Cardenas said the party needs to offer a bolder brand of conservatism. At the same time, he wants to emphasize the openness of the movement.

The number of African-American and Hispanic speakers this year will be greater than any previous year, he said.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party Patriots will host a panel at CPAC called, "Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You're Not One?"

The spirits of CPAC and the Republican Party have not always been in sync. Past winners of the traditional presidential straw poll have included former Congressman Ron Paul and evangelical leader Gary Bauer, suggesting that attendees are not always in lock step with the thinking of the party's mainstream.

Still, the conference's agenda is read as a tip sheet for who's up and who's down in a party that is plotting a comeback.

There has been a kerfuffle over who hasn't been invited to the affair, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican governor in a blue state who holds one of the highest approval ratings in the country but has crossed party orthodoxy on gun control among other issues.

"I think if there had been a vote taken, it would have been a very different situation," said one American Conservative Union board member about the Christie snub.

The urge to purge appears more prevelant than any desire to unite. Nobody expects CPAC to fix what ails the GOP, but would it have been too much to ask that the process of forming a consensus on what should be done could have begun at the conclave?

Apparently so.

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