- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2005

The Republican Party is being “dictated to by a coalition of ideological extremists,” a former Bush administration Cabinet official says in a new book that blames President Bush and his top political strategist for failing to bring more “blue states” into the Republican column in November.

Christie Whitman, the former Republican governor of New Jersey who resigned her post as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in May 2003, says Mr. Bush and adviser Karl Rove were wrong in their strategy of boosting turnout among the party’s voting base of political “extremists” on the right, including evangelical Christians.

In her new book, “It’s My Party Too: The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of America” — due in bookstores Jan. 31 — Mrs. Whitman says the Republican Party has failed to reach out to “moderates” like herself.

The Republican Party “at the national level is allowing itself to be dictated to by a coalition of ideological extremists — I call them social fundamentalists — groups that have claimed the mantle of conservatism and show no inclination to seek bipartisan consensus on anything,” Mrs. Whitman writes in the book.

A spokeswoman for Penguin, the book’s publisher, said yesterday that Mrs. Whitman would not grant interviews until the official release date.

Fellow Republicans reacted sharply to the arguments Mrs. Whitman makes in advance copies of her book.

The Republican Party is winning elections by “sticking to our principles of trusting free people and free enterprise,” said Sen. George Allen of Virginia, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“I take issue with her prescription,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican. “Our winning the White House again and increasing our majorities in the House and Senate show that most of the American public agrees with our philosophy of government.”

Mrs. Whitman says her party should move away from those she calls “zealots” in the social conservative movement and return to the party’s fiscal conservative roots.

“We all agree that fiscal responsibility is important,” said Mrs. Blackburn, adding that for her that means “reducing taxes and spending.”

Although Mrs. Whitman’s book is critical of the influence of religious conservatives in the Republican Party, Mrs. Blackburn said, “Most people believe in faith, family and freedom as the underpinning of our society. When we talk about that faith and draw on it, that’s positive. I don’t think that’s fundamentalism, and I don’t think that’s what’s wrong with our country or our party. That’s America.”

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