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Republicans blame message, not ideas, for failures

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) arrives for the Barack Obama second presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) arrives for the Barack Obama second presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol January 21, 2

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Days after President Barack Obama's inauguration, Republican leaders said on Sunday their party needed to change the way it communicates, not its ideas, to win back the White House.

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, appearing in his first live television interview since the November 6 election, said his party needs to demonstrate that Republican ideas can improve people's lives.

"We have to show our ideas are better at fighting poverty, how our ideas are better at solving healthcare, how our ideas are better at solving the problems people are experiencing in their daily lives," the Wisconsin congressman told NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, where Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned aggressively and lost by 4 percentage points, said his party's message has failed to reach voters who don't pay close attention to politics.

"I think they don't understand the conservative message," McDonnell told CNN's "State of the Union."

McDonnell said the party should look away from Washington and toward the country's 30 Republican governors for lessons on how to gain voters' support.

Representative David Schweikert of Arizona said his party has failed to connect with many Americans.

"We are accountants," Schweikert said on ABC's "This Week," arguing that the Republican Party offers a more analytical approach to solving problems than Democrats. "Sometimes, though, being an accountant doesn't pull at the heart strings."

Republican leaders gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week to address the party's future. There, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a potential candidate for president in 2016, told his fellow Republicans to "stop being the stupid party" and reject anti-intellectual strands within the party.

In the 2012 campaign, Republicans struggled to attract support from single women, Hispanics and blacks. Some Republicans are looking to embrace immigration reform as a way to alter the party's image and welcome new voters.

"How can we be a party of growth, of opportunity, of free enterprise, of prosperity, but not be the party of immigration?" said Carlos Gutierrez, a former U.S. commerce secretary, on "State of the Union."

Highlighting a Florida Republican senator's approach to providing a path to citizen for undocumented immigrants, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CBS's "Face the Nation:" "Republicans had better listen very carefully to Marco Rubio."

(Reporting By Samuel P. Jacobs; Editing by Eric Beech)

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