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What Did the Republican National Committee's Own Report Reveal About Why Republicans Lost in 2012?

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AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus gavels the Republican National Convention open in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

The findings of a new report commissioned by the Republican National Committee marks "a fresh beginning" for the GOP, said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus in a speech at the National Press Club Monday morning.

Priebus said the report, called the Growth and Opportunity Project report, shows there was "no one reason" Republicans lost big in the November election. "Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement," he said.

The Growth and Opportunity Project was established in December 2012 as a fact-finding commission to come up with a list of recommendations to build membership in the GOP. It identified five areas the party wants to improve: demographic outreach; campaign mechanics; field organization and state parties; messaging; primaries debates and conventions.

Among the 98-page report's proposals were for the RNC to hire National Political Directors for minority voters, establish closer relationships with technology innovators, shorten the number of primary debates (there were 20 in the last Republican presidential primary) and move the party's national convention up from August to either June or July.

The report was based on feedback from 50,000 people across the country. In his speech, Priebus said focus groups described the GOP as "narrow minded," "out of touch" and "stuffy old men."

"The perception that we're the party of the rich continues to grow," he said. "That's frustrating because we care about every voter."

Highlighting the fracture between old guard Republicans and insurgents, or "tea party" Republicans, Priebus said the GOP must become more inclusive. "Our 80 percent friend is not our 20 percent enemy," he said. "We can be true to our platform without being disrespectful of those who don’t agree with it 100 percent. Finding common ground with voters will be a top priority."

On media outreach, Priebus said pop culture news outlets, which President Barack Obama is widely regarded to have mastered, should be engaged by Republicans. "We have to stop divorcing ourselves from American culture," he said. "And maybe that means I get to sit down with the ladies of The View."

During the Q&A portion, Priebus said the party's policy positions are "sound" but that "the ways that we communicate can be a real problem. We have to become a welcoming party."

On whether conservative commentators like radio host Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter may damage the party's outreach with voters skeptical of the GOP, Preibus said he's "not in the business of throwing anyone under the bus."

Both gay and women voters sided with Obama by significant margins in the last election. The report proposes that the RNC recruit more female conservatives to appear on television and in media. As for appealing to gay voters, Priebus said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who recently announced his support for same-sex marriage, has made "inroads" on that front.

Follow Eddie Scarry (@eScarry) on Twitter

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