Watch CBSN Live

'Believe It Or Not' At The RNC

Republican Party leaders are meeting in New York this weekend, plotting strategy for the November elections. With a bare 22-seat advantage in the House, some argue the party needs to reach out to new voters. CBS News Correspondent Jeffrey Kofman reports that the GOP are listening to some viewpoints not traditionally Republican.

"I know that some of you wonder how the chairman could have the audacity to invite a lifelong Democrat," said the Reverend Floyd Flake.

If this Democratic Congressman seems like an unlikely speaker at a meeting of the Republican National Committee, well, that's the point. "I think the evidence clearly suggests that it's time for some of us to look at both parties," said Flake.

That is the dream of the Republican leadership, but the reality is more sobering. Minorities remain the Democratic party's most loyal supporters; in the last presidential election, almost nine out of ten African-Americans voted for Clinton.

And so the Republican party leadership talks about its "Big Tent," meaning it has room for diversity. But is there room for diverse opinions on sensitive social issues? Some Republicans aren't so sure.

Like Tim Lambert, an RNC member from Texas, led a campaign last January to cut off funding to any Republican candidate who supports late-term abortions. The move was defeated, but the sentiment remains.

"Anybody can be a Republican," says Lambert, "but I think people that hold a radical position on supporting partial birth abortions and homosexual rights, those people are not in the mainstream of the Republican party."

New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman is one of those moderate Republicans conservatives like Lambert has attacked. As Whitman sees it, Republicans should be emphasizing education and economic issues.

"There are so many good, positive things that we can talk about, on which everyone agrees," said Whitman, "that to get sidetracked on one or two of the social issues where there is such a deep division would be really detrimental to our best interests."

Which is why this weekend meeting was about presenting a unified front, even if it is a fragile one.

CBS News correspondent Jeffrey Kofman

View CBS News In