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Singling out gay marriage or immigration was self-defeating, said Ballabon.
“All the postmortems focus on demographics – that’s playing the Democrat’s gem, that’s a loss right there,” he said.
Recalling the drawing power of a figure like Ronald Reagan, Ballabon said positions on hot-button issues matter less than a party leader who can appeal across demographic lines.
“The only chance we have is there’s another bold visionary who can attract people not based on divide and conquer, but who can inspire people to core American ideals – liberty, freedom, personal responsibility,” Ballabon said.
Tevi Troy, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, said the problem was not with policies but with how they were presented.
“There are messaging challenges,” he said. ”I don’t think any of our candidates should talk about rape.”
GOP Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana – states that otherwise went solidly for Romney – both lost their seats after making controversial marks about rape that were widely reported and derided. Their losses facilitated a net Democratic gain in the body from 53 to 55.
Troy said the Republican Party could learn from its Jewish supporters how to frame its vision of an America of opportunity in ways that would appeal to minorities and immigrants.
“You do have a place in America to succeed,” he said. “Jews are a paradigmatic example of a minority that came to the U.S. and did very well in the American system.”
Troy said also that the party should consider gradual and not radical changes in some areas. For instance, reversing “Obamacare,” the president’s health care reforms mandating universal coverage, was likely no longer an option.