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Republicans ponder painful way forward

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Republicans found themselves gazing into an electoral abyss Wednesday, registering the full impact of a 2012 election that exposed crippling weaknesses in the party’s political infrastructure and demographic appeal. The takeaway among party leaders was virtually unanimous: The GOP faces a years-long challenge of reaching out to Americans beyond its predominantly white, male base and updating a voter turnout machine that’s woefully out of date. Exactly how to do that is a tougher question, Republicans acknowledged. In any case, there’s broad agreement that it will take national leadership from a charismatic politician — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s name came up repeatedly — to begin the process of bouncing back.