NEW ORLEANS — Republicans are awash in optimism over their prospects for the fall elections, with the party on a plausible path toward picking up governor’s seats across the country and, perhaps, even winning control of the House and strengthening their power in the Senate.
As the Southern Republican Leadership Conference drew to a close here on Sunday, party activists had a bounce of confidence in their step as they contemplated the possibilities of Election Day in November, when they could, as a $4 bumper sticker here declared, “stop the ObamaNation.”
Yet for all of the punchy applause lines offered by a troop of speakers — almost all of whom took aim at President Obama — and for all of the unanimous cries that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Harry Reid should be shown the door in Washington, there was also a stern admonition for Republicans.
The warning was delivered by Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, who said that his party’s outlook could fade if differences over ideological purity intensified and created discord among establishment Republicans, the Tea Party and other ordinary voters, who may share the same frustrations but be turned off from aligning with any of the movements within the party.