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Admitting Republican Drift, Indiana GOP Head Plots Way Back

Indiana Republican Chairman Murray Clark is headed to Washington to vote on a new GOP chairman. Before he left, though, Clark delivered a “mea culpa” of sorts to the Indiana University College Republicans.

The GOP, he said, has lost the confidence of voters.

“The American public is no longer certain what this party stands for,” he said.

While recounting the party’s losses last November, Clark also pointed out the GOP holds every statewide office and that Governor Mitch Daniels received the most votes in the state’s history during his 2008 reelection campaign.

Clark gave as much or more criticism of his own party as he did to Democrats. He said the party must be critical of its recent behavior in order to blaze the trail for a comeback in the 2010 elections and beyond.

“I think Republicans want to see Republicans get back to being consistent with fundamental principles and get away from earmarks you’ve seen Republicans support,” he said. “Get away from the spending, kind of the out-of-control Bridge to Nowhere spending that Republicans were also a part of the past three or four years. And left people scratching their heads, [asking], ‘Well what do you guys stand for? I thought that’s not what you wanted.’”

Clark said Republicans will have to walk a fine line between trying to help the struggling U.S. economy while opposing President Barack Obama’s plans to do just that.

“There’s a real discussion going on [about] how to restore the Republican brand nationally, as far as being the loyal opposition,” Clark said. “First of all, you need to have answers, not just lob bombs.”

Clark likens Republicans’ chances in 2010 to 1994, when the GOP recaptured Congress for the first time in 40 years due to dissatisfaction with the new Democratic president.

Clark would not reveal who he’s supporting as the new GOP party chairman as he heads to Washington to cast his vote, but said the decision will be significant as Republicans try to come back after record party dissatisfaction and November’s gains by Democrats.

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