Republicans look to Reagan era for inspiration

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Looking to the future after their "seismic" loss of power in the U.S. Congress, some Republicans are turning to the past and the glory days of Ronald Reagan's presidency for inspiration.

"We are in the wilderness because we walked away from the limited government principles that minted the Republican Congress," Rep. Mike Pence wrote to colleagues after Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives and the Senate in this week's elections.

The Indiana Republican, a major voice of the conservative wing in the House who is seeking a leadership position in his party, described himself as dedicated to providing "a credible and persuasive voice for the Reagan agenda."

"Now is the time to return to the ideals that swept us into a governing majority," said John Shadegg of Arizona, quoting from the 1994 Contract with America, the manifesto of Reagan's ideological heirs. Shadegg also is seeking a leadership role.

As Pence, Shadegg and other figures maneuver for influence in the new Democratic-controlled Congress, the dominant Republican themes are fiscal discipline, tax cuts and conservative purity. They are not talking much about Iraq or foreign policy.

So far no Republican moderates have ventured into the leadership arena, and the one moderate who had been part of that circle, Deborah Pryce of Ohio, announced she is leaving after barely surviving her re-election bid.

But some of the dwindling band of moderate Republicans are speaking up, urging that their party move toward the center, where the recent election showed many American voters are most comfortable.

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