GOP wraps up meeting with welcoming, but tough, talk


McClatchy Washington Bureau

Republicans ended their winter meeting Friday trying to set a welcome, but tough, tone.

"I've said many times before that the policies and principles of our party are sound," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told the party's winter meeting.

"However, as we look to grow the ranks of our party, we must ALL be very conscious of the tone and choice of words we use to communicate those policies effectively.

The remarks were seen as a response to luncheon speaker Mike Huckabee, who Thursday said "If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are hopeless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them with their prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it," Huckabee said. "Let's take that discussion all across America."

The party also took tough stands on abortion and National Security Agency spying, while also trying to set a more welcoming tone.

In a voice vote, the Republican National Committee urged officials to "immediately take action to halt current unconstitutional surveillance programs and provide a full public accounting of the NSA’s data collection programs.”

The measure also seeks a special committee to "investigate, report, and reveal to the public the extent of this domestic spying.”

And it could "hold accountable" public officials involved in the surveillance.

The most widely discussed changes involved the 2016 nominating calendar. Party officials are determined to cut down on the number of debates--27 in the 2012 cycle--and condense the voting period.

The RNC agreed that the four traditional early states, New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada, could vote in February. Between March and mid-May, other states would vote


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