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  Republicans seeking to lead party blame Bush for woes
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Last EditedArmyDem  Jan 05, 2009 10:46pm
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News DateTuesday, January 6, 2009 04:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionBy James Rosen | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Republicans vying to lead their national party praised President-elect Barack Obama's election campaign on Monday and criticized President George W. Bush for spending too much, mismanaging the Iraq war and bungling the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

With two African-Americans among six men seeking to head the Republican National Committee, all candidates said in a televised debate that their party must do more to attract blacks, Hispanics, young people and other key demographic groups.

"The key to this whole thing is to get out of your comfort zone," said former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, one of the black candidates. "We are just so comfortable talking among ourselves."

When Steele asked how many of his opponents had ever attended an NAACP meeting, only former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, the other African-American candidate, raised his hand.

"I know you've been there!" Steele exclaimed to laughter at the National Press Club.

In posing one question to the candidates, Mario Lopez, the head of the conservative Hispanic Leadership Fund, said that Republicans who used "harsh language" on immigration and other issues have reversed the gains Bush had made among Latino voters.

The candidates agreed that their party must become more tolerant of different viewpoints, but none strayed from core GOP stances against abortion, taxes and gun control, as well as for school vouchers and a robust national defense.
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