Karl Rove

Karl Rove, former adviser to President George W. Bush, speaks Saturday to a crowd of more than 400 at the state GOP convention in Sacramento.(Randall Benton/rbenton@sacbee.com)

By Torey Van Oot
Published: Sunday, Mar. 3, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 3, 2013 – 10:56 am

In their latest effort to rebuild and rebrand, California Republicans turned this weekend to a famed “architect” of GOP victories: Karl Rove.

The top Republican strategist squeezed planning sessions, fundraising and a pep talk to delegates attending a luncheon into a several-hourslong stopover in Sacramento, where California Republicans are convening for their first formal gathering since suffering a shellacking at the ballot last year. He even offered some tough love.

“My message is this,” Rove told luncheon attendees. “Get off your ass.”

California GOP officials invited the former aide and adviser to President George W. Bush to address attendees as they seek to regroup from a bruising 2012 election.

The party, which holds no statewide office, ceded supermajority control to legislative Democrats, lost key congressional races and dipped below 30 percent in statewide voter registration. The party starts 2013 hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Rove conceded that Republicans “don’t all know the right answers right now.” But he urged party members to evaluate how they communicate, urging the luncheon fundraiser audience to take a more inclusive, broad-based approach to messaging.

“Losing has one great benefit to it,” Rove said. “It gives you the chance to start fresh, to look everything anew and start rebuilding from the ground up in innovative and thoughtful ways that will expand our reach and expand our members.”

Rove became the center of controversy in some GOP circles earlier this year, after he announced the creation of a new political effort that was viewed as hostile to some tea party supporters. But most hard feelings among California Republicans seemed to have dissipated by the weekend.

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