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As much as I love the former president, no, this electorate would be more enamored of a Colin Powell Republican. I’m not saying I agree with every stance of moderates; just stating a political reality. The public wants common-sense approaches with sensitivity to the plights of those less fortunate, not Wall Street. The Grand Old Party has not fully escaped that stigma. Republicans ignore that at their own peril.

The financial-services debate is a prime example. In the span of three weeks, Republican leaders managed to go from outright opposition to another bailout of Wall Street banks, to sheepishly adopting a “me-too” attitude trashing these Gucci-wearing execs, to finally stepping aside and letting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid work his punitive will in the Senate.

Did Republicans offer any constructive input in that debate? I don’t think so. To the average onlooker, they were holding up the bill because they couldn’t agree on just what color gray the cells for these tycoons should be painted. That won’t exactly instill confidence in a voter looking to send a message to Mr. Obama.

Additionally, think of how different the ongoing immigration debate would look with more measured Republican responses. On paper, Mr. Crist was tailor-made for the role. A moderate governor of a Hispanic-heavy state making a reasoned plea for balance and enforcement of existing laws. On top of that, he’s a Republican! Or at least, he was a Republican. That’s the kind of messenger the party needs in addition to the Sarah Palin brimstone.

Do Mr. Crist’s views track Burke or even Buckley? It’s safe to say, no. But does the party need to do a better job at presenting its stance on immigration in a manner that appears less barbaric and insensitive? It’s safe to say, yes.

“The Armstrong Williams Show” is broadcast on XM Satellite’s Power 169 channel from 9 to 10 p.m. weeknights.