GOP governors debate party's direction at Miami conference

The Republican Party, still grappling with last week's election results, should position itself as a pragmatic problem-solver for working people, GOP governors meeting in Miami said Wednesday.

Without unequivocally stating that the party should move to the ideological center to appeal to moderate voters, leaders at the two-day Republican Governors Association meeting urged their colleagues to tackle education, energy and the environment to broaden the party's base.

Largely absent from their discussions at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami: hot-button social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, which are seen by some party members as divisive.

Women, Hispanics and young voters flocked to Democrats on Election Day, and with a Democratic-controlled White House and Congress, it will fall on GOP state leaders to win those groups back, governors said.

''We need to reach out more as a party,'' said Gov. Charlie Crist, hosting the annual conference after Florida went blue in the presidential race and as the state faces a severe budget crunch.

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