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In congressional races, Republicans are losing ground

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Citing recent special-election losses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich issued a "Plea to Republicans" last week. "Without change we could face a catastrophic election this fall," he wrote in the conservative weekly Human Events. "Without change the Republican Party in the House could revert to the permanent minority status it had from 1930 to 1994."

This week House Republican leader John Boehner, who has been predicting a tough election for months, launches the long rollout of a new messaging campaign that has been dubbed by some party aides a "rebranding exercise."

For Republicans, the past 15 months have been mainly about "defining the Democrats," he says, citing their "very liberal agenda" and broken promises – especially the "Pelosi premium," a reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's failure to deliver on a promise to bring down high gasoline prices.

But the need now is for Republicans to get clear on their own agenda for change, says Representative Boehner. "While we'll continue to hold Democrats accountable, I think it's also time for us to define ourselves, in terms of what we would do if the American people would honor us with the majority," he said in a May 8 briefing .

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