GOP exec rejects softer stance

Brad White, chairman of Mississippi Republicans, said the national party “has the right platform, the right principles.”

“We need to begin to communicate that effectively to people, and we need to have the guts to stand behind it. And we need to start acting like Republicans,” added White, who in January will help decide the Republican National Committee’s next leader.

Some political analysts say the GOP should soften its hard-right stances to appeal to more women and minorities.

“Right now, the guaranteed Republican vote is a Southern, older, white male, and that base is going to have to be expanded to regain the White House and also to regain parity in the Congress,” said Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University.

The debate is less of an issue in Mississippi, where Republicans continue to have success in statewide elections. Mississippi Democrats said they’ll keep trying to capitalize on the national success of President-elect Barack Obama, however.

“It’s a challenge,” said Rosalind Rawls, interim executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “But once we help Mississippians understand our policies are really going to uplift them, people will always vote in their best interest.”

White, a 31-year-old Simpson County resident named chairman of the state GOP this year, blamed Republicans’ national losses partly on the unpopularity of President Bush, an uncertain economy and the lack of a candidate who could compete with Obama’s charisma.

Clarion Ledger