Washington — This was to be a roadmap for a new, more inclusive GOP: attract minority voters, support immigration reform and embrace "welcoming and inclusive" attitudes on gay rights.
But minutes after unveiling the proposal on Monday, the party chairman distanced himself from it, and some conservatives and tea party members balked.
It all illustrated the GOP's precarious balance as it works to unite battling factions.
"This is not my report," Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told reporters, describing the contents as simply recommendations by a five-person panel — even though he was the person who had commissioned the self-audit after the party lost a second consecutive presidential election last fall.
In a report, the RNC says that the way the party communicates its principles isn't resonating widely enough and that focus groups perceive the party as "narrow minded," "out of touch" and "stuffy old men."
"The perception that we're the party of the rich unfortunately continues to grow," Priebus said as he released the report.
Conservative and tea party criticism was immediate, a sign that the prescriptions may end up widening existing divides rather than building new bridges in an evolving GOP.
"The idea that a major political party must accept the practice of homosexuality as normal so as to remain relevant will prove the contrary and lead to disaster," said John Horvat II, a Catholic scholar.
And Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, faulted Washington GOP establishment leaders for the November party losses, saying they strayed from the conservative message.