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GOP’s future: Change or die

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"There are some core issues that we are going to have to have a discussion about," Chaffetz says, mentioning immigration, gay marriage and abortion. "We can be more eloquent in stating our position."

Chaffetz — who notes his own family doesn’t have a landline phone and watches little broadcast television — says Democrats are doing a better job communicating with a new generation of voters, and the GOP needs to catch up.

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"We are on the right side of the issues but our coolness quotient is not as good as it should be," he says. "The last month we criticized President Obama for going on ‘The Tonight Show,’ ‘Letterman’ and ‘The Daily Show’ … Rather than scoff at it, we ought to do it."

KellyAnne Conway, a Republican strategist and founder of Washington-based The Polling Company, dismissed the idea that the GOP must change its principles.

"The party doesn’t need to moderate, it needs to modernize," Conway says. "It needs to understand the changing cultural, demographic differences in the nation."

Democrats have proven their ability to reach out to voters through specific marketing — finding black voters in salons or barbershops, mothers in gyms or playgrounds, Conway notes. The problem this election wasn’t that Romney touted the conservative talking points, but that he didn’t connect to the voters he needed.

"Anybody who thinks Mitt Romney lost the election because he was too out in front on traditional marriage and life, please send me those clips," Conway says. "Where was that in the teleprompter?"


Matt Canham contributed to this story.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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