First on CNN: For GOP, an effort to change obstructionist image

Reince Priebus is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. His goal is a new image for the GOP.

Story highlights

  • Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is spearheading the plan
  • Priebus: I want voters to know what Republicans are for, not just what they're against
  • This new push comes one month before the midterm elections; polls favor the GOP
Republicans will unveil a rebranding effort Thursday aimed at changing its image as a political party focused solely on obstructing President Barack Obama's agenda to instead a champion of ideas and action.
It is being spearheaded by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who will deliver a speech at a local university outlining the GOP's legislative efforts across 11 topic areas ranging from jobs and national security to values and immigration.
"If you asked the country, most people would say they know our party opposes many of those policies," Priebus is expected to say about the GOP's view of Obama's legislative goals, according to an early draft of his remarks obtained by CNN. "We oppose them because we know there's a better way.
"So before November, I wanted to take a moment, cut through the noise, and talk about what's driving the Republican Party. People know what we're against. I want to talk about the things we're for."
The plan is to arm surrogates and candidates with detailed information to emphasize in cable television and talk radio appearances and on the campaign trail about what the GOP has accomplished in Congress as well as discuss the party's vision.
Some of the subjects include legislation by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul to address unemployment, efforts by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Utah Sen. Mike Lee to eliminate the marriage penalty and an immigration plan that emphasizes stricter security along the borders.
This new push by Republicans to change their image comes one month before the midterm elections in which the GOP is expected to easily hold its majority in the House and perhaps take control of the Senate.
Despite the predictions by nonpartisan political handicappers of GOP electoral success in November, there is an acknowledgment within the party that it needs to do a better job convincing voters that its objective is greater than just derailing Obama's agenda.
It was just one year ago when Republican opposition to the new health care law -- otherwise known as Obamacare -- forced the federal government to shut down for several weeks. Many Republicans acknowledge the shutdown hurt the GOP's image with voters frustrated by Washington inaction and dysfunction.
The ability to demonstrate it can govern effectively is essential for both political parties over the next two years, as it will set the stage for what is discussed, attacked and promoted in the 2016 presidential campaign.
It is no secret that the conservative grassroots have been hypercritical of the GOP establishment in recent years over the direction of the party, execution of ideas and decision to protect incumbent Republican lawmakers who do not meet the grassroots definition of a full-blooded conservative.
An RNC official said that this plan was drafted after soliciting extensive input from political and grassroots activists, campaign operatives and elected officials over the past several months about what messages needed to be highlighted.