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GOP isn't dying, but it will have to reach moderate voters to survive

Obituaries for the GOP are premature. But Republicans must reconnect with their base, move away from far-right fringe elements, and reach out to moderates and independents to re-establish themselves as a broad-based national party. The good news: The numbers are on their side.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky addresses the 114th annual VFW National Convention in Louisville, Ky., July 22. Mr. Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently swapped insults on each other's view for the GOP. Op-ed contributor Amy E. Black writes: 'Instead of grabbing headlines as they fight each other over tactics, Republicans should be carefully planning a way to restore their brand.'

Timothy D. Easley/AP/File

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Some pundits have written off the GOP as a dying force in American politics, but such obituaries are premature.

If Republicans continue to pander to the extreme right wing of the party, they may indeed go the way of the dinosaurs. But a GOP resurgence is still possible. When they return from their August recess, Republicans need to regroup, reconnect with their base, move away from far-right fringe elements, and reach out to moderates and independents to re-establish themselves as a broad-based national party.

Some of the nastiest battles of late have not been between the two parties but within one political camp: Republicans are at war with one another. Although the exact names on the roster vary slightly with each issue, Republican factions in the House and Senate have been battling over issues ranging from National Security Agency surveillance programs to immigration reform to foreign policy to tactical plans for fighting Obamacare.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky have captured plenty of headlines, trading insults as they battle for the spotlight and possibly the coveted position of 2016 presidential frontrunner.

The recent Republican skirmishes highlight recurring themes: tea party activists vs. traditional Republicans; newcomers to Washington vs. seasoned veterans; legislators who oppose any form of compromise vs. those who want to work with the system.

Internal disagreement is common for an out-party (the party not in the White House) especially one that is still licking its wounds from losing a second presidential election in a row. But the political infighting creates unnecessary spectacle and keeps party leaders – and followers – playing defense. It also prevents them from building a winning coalition for the next few elections.

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