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House GOP unveils 'change' agenda for fall

  • Story Highlights
  • House Republican leadership releases new agenda
  • It comes after Tuesday's special election loss in "safe" GOP seats
  • "The Republican reputation is just in the trash can," former party official says
  • The five-solution agenda focuses on working mothers, military families
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From Ed Hornick
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sensing trouble in the fall, the House GOP leadership on Wednesday addressed recent losses in special Congressional elections by unleashing a new agenda aimed at changing that party's image.

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House Republicans unveiled an agenda Wednesday aimed at strengthening American families.

House Republican leaders pushed the retooled message, which they call "Change You Deserve."

They rolled out the first version Wednesday, which focuses on working mothers and military families.

"This agenda is a reflection of House Republicans' commitment to providing American families with the change they deserve: common-sense solutions to the challenges they face in their daily lives," according to the agenda provided to CNN.

"Today's families face challenges that yesterday's laws don't address. Sixty percent of mothers with children under are 6 are now working outside the home. The majority of families have not one parent working but both parents working."

The agenda goes on to argue that laws need to be changed to provide American families with "more freedom in their jobs; greater health care and retirement security; safer communities; access to quality, affordable education; and the ability for future generations to compete in the global economy."

There is also a focus helping military families.

"Our nation's most solemn duties are to take care of our troops, veterans and their families and to keep families safe. It is critical that we continue to fight and win the war on terror and that we support our men and women who serve in our Armed Forces and their families."

The agenda comes after a big loss for House Republicans on Tuesday. Democrat Travis Childers defeated Republican Greg Davis in a special election for a congressional seat in northern Mississippi.

For Democrats, Childers' decisive victory is the latest in a series of special-election wins for the party and provides a strong tailwind heading into the November elections. Republicans had held the seat since 1994. Video Watch how Childers' win impacts presidential race »

"For the third time this year, Democrats have turned a red seat to blue, proving that Americans across our country want real solutions and reject Republicans' misleading and negative attacks. ... Democrats have won three special elections in Republican seats in one cycle," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.

For Republicans, Davis' defeat is viewed as a possible preview of a widespread GOP thrashing in November, and it shows that trying to link local Democrats in conservative districts to Sen. Barack Obama and his former pastor was not a winning strategy.

At a news conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner said the loss was "another wake up call that we have to show Americans that we can fix the problems here in Washington and fix the problems that they deal with every day. ... We've got to show Americans that we know how to fix it and we're committed to fixing them."

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt added that the party needs "to do what we need to do over the next few months to make sure the American people connect our message with us."

Former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis, a congressman from Virginia, says Tuesday's loss could lead to a devastating finish come November.

"The Republican reputation is just in the trash can, and if this were a brand of dog food, you would just take it off the shelf, because nobody is buying it," he said.

It's a tough assessment from the man who used to be in charge of getting Republicans elected to Congress.

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And so Davis handed out a 27-page memo to his colleagues Wednesday in a closed-door meeting. In it, he says the party needs to revamp its image because Republicans face the worst political atmosphere since Watergate.

"If this isn't a turning point, we're the airplane flying into the mountain. ... If we don't veer off to the side, we're gonna crash and burn this November," he said.

CNN's Kate Bolduan and Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.

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