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Republican National Committee showcased update, while losing image remains after meeting

BY THOMAS BEAUMONT
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- The dueling faces of a conflicted political party were on display for all to see at the just-concluded Republican National Committee meeting.

One was younger, more diverse and tech-savvy, part of the RNC's carefully crafted plan to inspire confidence that the GOP is trying to grow beyond its shrinking, older, largely white base. The other — one that hasn't evolved since the GOP's back-to-back presidential losses — lurked in the hallways, occasionally taking center stage at the Washington hotel where party delegates from around the country met to discuss party business.

The reminder of the divisions comes a year after Chairman Reince Priebus published a report aimed at modernizing the party and boosting its ranks, and as Republicans eye their best chance at taking control of both houses of Congress since 2002.

"If our party doesn't unite, we're never going to win," said Jonelle Fulmer, a Republican National Committeewoman from Arkansas.

Following the recommendations in the Priebus-commissioned autopsy of the GOP's losing 2012 presidential campaign, the national party launched a multipronged strategy a year ago to reach out to younger voters, women and racial and ethnic minorities, groups who sided more heavily with Democrats, especially President Barack Obama.

Yet, awkward comments about contraception and women's reproductive systems and chatter over Michigan committeeman Dave Agema's derogatory comments about gays and Muslims obscured the party's attempt to feature its efforts at last week's meeting.

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