The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 18, 2013

Notebook: Will the real Republican Party please stand up

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

"Historically, the GOP is a coalition of social, economic and national security conservatives," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. "That is unlikely to change. The Rubio/Bush faction of the Republican Party recognizes this reality. Many in the libertarian wing of the party do not."

The question before Republicans is can they keep the party together — or at least all pushing in a similar direction — heading into the 2014 midterm election so that the battle for the soul and leadership mantle of the GOP can be fought out in the 2016 presidential primary process?

And, if the Bush/Rubio side of the party winds up emerging victorious in that primary fight, does the Paul/Cruz wing line up behind the nominee or take what is already a hybrid of GOP and libertarian principles and try to remake the party in their own image through some sort of third-party means?

The challenge for Republicans, put simply, is this: Can the GOP go from "wacko birds" to the White House in three years time? Not easily.

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