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Election roils GOP leaders

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Their losses mounting, House Republican began their struggle for the leadership in earnest Wednesday morning as Rep. John Boehner of Ohio announced he wants to remain the House minority leader and House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam announcing he would step down from his post. All eyes were watching to see whether House Minority Whip Roy Blunt would also step aside.

"I'm deeply disappointed by the outcome of Tuesday's election. But I'm equally committed to building a lasting majority on the reform principles that define us and inspire our citizens," Mr. Boehner said in a letter to House Republicans and incoming freshmen Republicans. "It's time for the losing to stop. And my commitment to you is that it will."

Just before midnight, as Republicans' losses piled up, Mr. Putnam sent a letter to his colleagues saying he wants to focus on bipartisanship rather than on partisan warfare.

"My current role obligates me to the latter and too often excludes me from the former. I want to fight the battles worth fighting and lock arms to strengthen our nation whenever possible," he said. Mr. Boehner, 58, has been the Republican leader in the House for two years. He replaced Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who did not seek reelection in the wake of scandal.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's re-election to his Kentucky seat and Republicans' apparent success in holding onto enough senators to conduct a filibuster has apparently staved off any challenges to leadership, Republican aides said.

Still, one Republican, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, said the party leaders either must change their attitudes or be dumped.

"We have got to clean up, reform and rebuild the Republican Party before we can ask Americans to trust us again. This must begin with either a change of command at the highest levels or our current leaders must embrace a bold new direction," he said Tuesday night.

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