Unwilling to rely exclusively on RNC chairman Michael Steele's promise to transform the Republican Party into one that reaches "hip hop" voters, a group of GOP bigwigs are starting their own group aimed at bolstering the conservative movement.
Senator John McCain, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Governor Mitt Romney, Representative Eric Cantor, and Governor Bobby Jindal are among the Republican heavyweights involved in the launch of the newly created National Council for New America (NCNA). The NCNA sent out a letter from Rep. Cantor's office outlining its mission earlier today and will make a kickoff announcement later this afternoon, the Washington Post reports.
According to the letter, the group will organize a series of town halls and online forums involving average Americans and Republican leaders. The NCNA hopes that these grassroots efforts will spark an ongoing dialogue about the direction of the country. The announcement letter contains a policy blueprint that eschews social issues such as abortion and gay marriage in favor of developing solutions to issues like health care, energy, and education.
"While we will be guided by our principles of freedom and security, we will seek to include more than just our ideas," the group's letter says. "This forum will include a wide open policy debate that every American can feel free to participate in. We do this not just to offer an alternative point of view or to be disagreeable. Instead, we want to ask the American people what their hopes and dreams are."
The NCNA is being launched in the midst of what has been a stormy week for the Republicans. On Tuesday, Arlen Specter, a longtime moderate Republican senator from Pennsylvania, announced that he is jumping over to the Democratic side of the aisle in part to avoid a bruising primary challenge from a conservative opponent. That move and the increasing likelihood that Minnesota Democrat Al Franken will soon be seated may give the Democrats a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes in the Senate.
Below, the full text of the NCNA letter:
The United States is the greatest country in the world, a beacon of hope, strength, and prosperity that Democracies worldwide seek to emulate. Our nation and its people have persevered through past challenges with strength derived from our common belief in freedom, liberty, and personal responsibility. Like every American, we look to the future with optimism for the great possibilities of tomorrow. Although today we face some of the toughest times in recent history, together, like so many generations before, we march forward with a vision for an even brighter future for our children.
Today, we are launching the National Council for a New America (NCNA), a caucus of Congressional leaders gathering the expertise of national leaders and doers. We hope that will form the foundation of a concerted, policy-based forum to listen to, partner with, and empower the American people with ideas and solutions that speak directly to the needs of our great nation. This forum will engage in a conversation with America that seeks to remove ideological filters, addresses the realities we are confronting, and speaks to the challenges our citizens are facing.
The NCNA will bring together citizens from across the country to begin a dialogue with the American people through a series of forums, town halls, and an online effort that will engage people in a discussion to meet our common challenges and build a stronger country through common-sense ideas. The NCNA will be a dynamic, forward-looking organization that will amplify the common-sense and wisdom of our fellow citizens through a grassroots dialogue with Republican leaders.
However, this is not a Republican-only forum. While we will be guided by our principles of freedom and security, we will seek to include more than just our ideas. This forum will include a wide open policy debate that every American can feel free to participate in. We do this not just to offer an alternative point of view or to be disagreeable. Instead, we want to ask the American people what their hopes and dreams are. Since January, the President and the Democratic Majority in Congress have — rightfully so — put forward their plan for the future, now we must listen, learn and lead through an honest, open conversation with the American people that will result in building policy proposals that will yield the best results for our nation's long-term success.
Ultimately, however, we are only launching this effort. The real drivers will have to be the American people. We invite Americans from all walks of life to speak with us as we begin anew rebuilding and reenergizing our nation. We do not pretend to have all the answers nor do we expect the NCNA to remain a static forum. Instead, this is going to be a living, breathing, expanding group that engages Americans from all walks of life. We hope to engage other national leaders, grassroots activists and citizens and invite them to work with us to solve problems with common-sense conservative solutions.
A Blueprint for our Conversation with America
Economy: Real Solutions for Economic Recovery
As the country battles through the worst economic crisis in a generation, we must remain focused on the foundations and institutions that have made us the most prosperous people in the world and the ideas that create jobs and grow our economy. At the same time, we must learn from the mistakes that led to the current crisis and to prevent similar situations from ever occurring again.
Healthcare: Building a 21st Century, Patient-Centered System
No one doubts that our nation's health care system is in need of reform, but we must strike the right balance that builds on what works and fixes what is broken. All Americans deserve access to high-quality, affordable care. But such coverage cannot come at the expense of their ability to choose their own doctor and have access to the right care, at the right time, in the right setting without waiting in line while sick. In addition, we must continue to focus on the innovation and science that have resulted in thousands of treatments and cures for life-threatening or debilitating diseases while allowing America to remain the leader in research and development worldwide.
Education: Preparing Our Children to Succeed
A high-quality education should not be dependent upon a parent's income or address. All of America's children deserve an education that will prepare them for the opportunities and the challenges that await them in the global economy. Yet today, thousands of American children, especially in our inner cities, receive a substandard education or find post-secondary education unaffordable. We must return power from Washington to parents and well-paid teachers who know what's best for our children.
Energy: Solutions for Energy Independence
American families and businesses cannot afford an energy policy where we are held hostage by foreign oil cartels and dictators. As a nation, we can no longer send billions of dollars overseas each year, often to countries that help fund our enemies. We must implement a comprehensive energy policy that includes traditional fuels, alternative energy, and conservation resulting in affordable, reliable domestic energy. Such a policy will stabilize costs for families and businesses while at the same time creating much-needed jobs here at home.
National Security: Defending American Liberty and Freedom
The threats posed to our nation are more varied and evolving more than perhaps at any other time in our history. Modern communications, technology and the proliferation of weapons of all types have empowered our enemies and those who support them. Our national security policy must reflect these realities while allowing us to maintain technological superiority, support the most well-trained and well-equipped military in the world and have the intelligence capabilities to uncover and prevent attacks before they occur.
Our National Panel of Experts:
Governor Haley Barbour
Governor Jeb Bush
Governor Bobby Jindal
Senator John McCain
Governor Mitt Romney
These are not the only issue areas where we will engage America, but they form a starting point in our revitalization effort. In the coming months, the NCNA will focus our attention outside of Washington where American families are living and raising their children, working toward the promise of a better tomorrow, and where common-sense ideals are valued over pundits and the political winds. We know America's best days are ahead, but we need to work hard to ensure that promise. We also know that the American people want choices and alternatives — that there is no one right solution for what America and its people need. This is what our country was founded on, this is what we stand for, this is what we hope the National Council for a New America will provide and we ask our fellow citizens to join with us.
John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mike Pence, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, John Carter, Pete Sessions, David Dreier, Kevin McCarthy, Roy Blunt
Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn, John Thune