COLUMBIA -- State Republicans gathered for their major fund-raiser at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia on Friday, worried that the party has done itself harm in recent years.
U.S. Rep. Mike Pence from Indiana, the keynote speaker at Friday's Silver Elephant dinner, said Republicans needed to return to their roots "or risk rejection by voters.
"The answer is for the Republican Party to go back to the practiced application of the principles that minted the majority," Pence said, "which I believe are the commitment to life and liberty and limited government."
Nationally, Republicans have had a tough year in losing elections in traditionally conservative areas. Polls show dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush.
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Pence, first elected in 2000, is a Congressional favorite among conservatives. He also also has been suggested as a possible running mate for presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., agreed that the GOP needed to adjust their leadership.
"The problems Republicans have suffered have been self-inflicted wounds," Graham said.
Locally, Republicans are in the midst of preparing for next month's primaries. Many of those contests have split the party along among conservative and moderate lines.
Because of the primaries and a letdown after January's presidential vote, state GOP chairman Katon Dawson said he expected attendance would be down at this year's Silver Elephant, and it was.
Dawson did not believe the internal GOP disagreements had affected attendance.
"We've had a lot of excitement over the last year and a half," Dawson said. "We're not looking for the largest crowd we've had. We're certainly proud of the evening and how many we have coming."