This past weekend, Republicans gathered in New Hampshire to attend the “First In the Nation Republican Leadership Summit”. Billed as the largest gathering of Republican hopefuls, the event had an extensive guest list including Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, John Bolton, Jim Gilmore, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee and George Pataki. Over 600 New Hampshire Republicans crowded into the hotel ballroom to hear from the party’s White House hopefuls.
For the first time, the budding primary has cultivated a distinguishing split among the party. On one side, there are candidates who believe that 2016 victory comes from non-traditional voter groups. The other side believes that traditional voter groups should be the primary focus.
Leading the way in the former camp is Jeb Bush, whose positions on immigration reform builds a bridge between Hispanic voters and the conservative GOP. Joining him are Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, and Chris Christie. In the other camp is Ted Cruz, joined by Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee. This camp believes that the 2012 loss was due a lack of core principle which translated to a lack of energy within the base.
Where other candidates fall remains to be seen. Candidates like Marco Rubio and Rick Perry, still face the complicated task in defining themselves. They must appeal to the party base but equally not appear to have flip-flopped on key issues like immigration and education and will certainly be a determining factor in the formation of their platforms, especially in the early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.