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Republicans Debate Their Future
Veteran GOP Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania discusses his conversion to the Democratic Party at the White House with President Barack Obama, left, in Washington, Wednesday, April 29, 2009. Specter, who left the Republican Party, his party of nearly 30 years, was welcomed by Obama, while Specter vowed that he'll be an asset as Obama tries to get his ambitious agenda through Congress. (AP)

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania discusses his conversion to the Democratic Party at the White House with President Barack Obama in Washington on April 29, 2009. (AP)

The Republican Party lost Arlen Specter to the Democrats last week. Over the weekend, they lost Jack Kemp, a vocal proponent of a “big tent” GOP, to cancer.

It’s been a “bad to worse” patch for the Republican Party. First they face a Democratic president who 81 percent of Americans say they like. Then they face an America where only 21 percent say they’re Republicans.

The permanent GOP majority envisioned by Karl Rove has given way, in crisis, to a Washington wholly dominated by Democrats, and critics calling the GOP “The Party of No” (somewhere between “a doomsday cult and Scientology,” writes New York Times columnist Frank Rich).

This hour, On Point: we’ll ask where is the big tent for the GOP now, and does the Republican base want to raise it again?

Republicans, what do you think? Even if you’re no fan of Specter, are you worried about the GOP’s dwindling ranks? Do you want a broader party or a purer one? What happened to the “permanent majority?” Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, co-founder and co-chair of the Republican Leadership Council.

David Keating, executive director of the Club for Growth.

Matthew Continetti, associate editor at The Weekly Standard.

More links:

Last week, after Arlen Specter announced his defection to the Democrats, The New York Times framed the internal GOP debate in terms of a purer vs. a broader party.

The Los Angeles Times pointed to Olympia Snowe and Rush Limbaugh as examples of two very different reactions to Specter’s defection.

Over at The Wall Street Journal, conservative columnist Peggy Noonan wrote that the GOP would collapse if it didn’t maintain a big-tent attitude, while Bill Kristol, in The Washington Post, called Specter’s switch “good news for Republicans.”

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