Republicans must change brand . . .

A lot of you who voted for Mitt Romney are probably still in terrible shock. But it's no shocker for some, due to the problem the Republican Party has of its own branding!

This election was Romney's to give away, and he did just that. He wrapped it up and put a big Republican red bow on it!

Why did this happen? It may not be a Romney campaign mishap but rather a GOP branding problem.

The major problem of the GOP is the look or the image...in other words, our "brand." Remember the conventions? Did you take a good look at the background and see the people in each? At the Democratic convention you see such diversity and at the GOP convention you see a panoramic view of whites. Young whites, old whites, and an occasional sprinkling of an African American, Hispanic, or Asian.

Does that look inviting? The answer is no. With independents in America growing to almost 20 percent, we must be creative and think: why is it those individuals aren't wanting to be Republicans?

In my new book, Branding America, I discuss it in depth, but my main point is that the GOP projects the feel of a country club that doesn't welcome change or diversity. The Dems did a wonderful job of putting the Republicans in a box by branding us as the one percenters, the old white guys, the country club set — an out of touch and uncaring party that seeks to protect the interests of the rich and big business.

Mitt Romney, in the beginning, fit that mold to a tee. If it were not for the help of his secret weapon, Ann Romney, who provided a human feel to Mitt Romney and the campaign, people would not have been so eager to support Mitt or at least want to give the guy a chance.

One of the reasons for Romney's selection of Paul Ryan was to appeal to the stand-offish tea party. The tea party, which can be polarizing at times, may divide the GOP and its attempt to re-brand itself. Although I respect the tea party, I feel the lunatic fringe needs to be cut from both the left and the right.

One of the issues that may hurt our party is the extreme religious right. Some say it is ruining our brand and making us seem narrow minded and a bit hypocritical.

Yet, campaigning with Jesus has become the backdrop of the GOP. Look at why unqualified Rick Santorum surged in the end. He and his sweater vest were campaigning with an invisible running mate — Jesus Christ. Although Jesus did not endorse Santorum, the conservative base of our party thought Santorum would make a more compassionate candidate and represent our values and beliefs better than Romney. There is your problem and there is your polarizing platform.

And, speaking of miracles, David Axelrod and Christ have one thing in common —they're both miracle workers. Axelrod basically took a failed-policy president and parted the Red Sea and got him re-elected. Maybe Obama isn't the new political messiah, but rather his "brandologist." David Axelrod is the Anointed One!

On a serious note, the part of our party that does make sense is the economic side. Our less government, lower taxes, and tax cuts for business makes good sense and is basically just good business. If we promoted that section of our platform, we would see more independents come our way, more diversity, and more expansion of our party.

So what can we do to start re-branding? Looks like after some losses and the loss of a presidential seat, we'd start to realize we cannot blame the candidates forever. Instead we need to take responsibility as a party and fix our brand, and fix it now.

Fox News commentator Noelle Nikpour is completing her first book, Branding of America. Follow her on Twitter at @NoelleNikpour and respond to this column at letters@sun-sentinel.com.

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