DENVER (CBS4)– Many prominent Republicans are in Denver this weekend for the Red State Gathering, many well known in the GOP are at the conference… except for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Some of those include radio host Glenn Beck, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Trump was not invited to last year’s gathering and was a no-show this year.
“I’m trying to figure out who we are as conservatives,” said Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican representing Northern Colorado.
Buck said this election has made that task more difficult with Trump who derides many traditional Republican principles like free trade, small government and U.S. intervention abroad.
Buck said that’s not the party he knows, “We are the party that was born out of the anti-slavery movement.”
In many ways the Republican party finds itself in an identity crisis.
“And everybody is frustrated about the top of the ticket. People are in fighting. What I’m here to tell you is that’s noise, that’s distraction,” said U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn.
Glenn urged Republicans to focus on the message, not the messenger.
“When you put the conservative message down on paper, we win all the time. The problem is translating that message into the hearts and minds of people,” said Glenn.
CBS4 Republican analyst Dick Wadhams points to the emergence of the tea party after Pres. Obama’s election in 2008.
“There’s always turmoil, there’s always chaos. But I think particularly when you do not have the presidency, there’s a lot of tension in the party about how to define the party,” said Wadhams.
He also said the gathering is a sign Republicans won’t let their standard bearer define the party for them.
“You’re already seeing right here, a red state, a conversation about what happens after this election and I think that’s significant. Win or lose the presidency this fall, the discussion is already started about what this party is about and what it’s future is going to be,” said Wadhams.