Ky. GOP women differ on how party should highlight GOP's position on social issues to younger voters

10/06/2013 08:59 PM

Republicans need to do a better job of reaching out to young people to outline what the party stands for, Kentucky GOP women largely agreed during a forum Saturday. What exactly they should highlight as the party’s top priorities, though, was up for debate.

Virginia Gray, a 35-year-old mother of three from Hopkinsville, said the Republican Party can come off as “polarizing” on social issues to younger voters.

“I think we have beat that like a dead horse. And frankly, I think younger people are tired of it,” Gray said.

Just minutes before, Jennifer Decker of Shelbyville, said starting teenage Republican clubs is a key way to reach out to younger voters.

But she used the abortion issue as an example. She said some students in Shelby County joined one of the high school Republican clubs because it was the “cool thing to do” but without knowing many of the positions in the party’s platform.

Decker, a field representative for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, said one girl asked her if the Republican Party is against regulations, “why do you want to regulate a woman’s body and her right to her reproductive organs.”

“And I said, ‘Because, darling, we think that’s murder,’” Decker recounted. “And she jumped back, and said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘We think that’s a live being that you are choosing to kill.’ And she said, ‘Well, I’ve never heard that.’”

The panel of Kentucky Republican officials didn’t directly pick a side on that. The panelists — Court of Appeals Judge Joy Moore, Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw, state Sens. Sara Beth Gregory of Monticello and Julie Denton of Louisville, and Courtney T. Baxter, the commonwealth’s attorney from Oldham and Trimble counties — said the Kentucky Republican Party needs to do a better job of relating to more than just “old white men,” as Denton put it.

Gregory said that while she is socially conservative there are many other Republicans who agree with her on only on pocketbook issues — and that’s fine, she added.

“We need to be clear that as a Republican Party, you don’t have to agree with us on 100 percent of the issues to be a Republican and be welcome in the Republican Party,” said

“And I think that’s part of the issue we see with young people wanting to register independent or register as ‘other’ because they see so much bickering back and forth and think, ‘Well, I don’t want to belong to either of these groups.’”

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