"Losing has one great benefit to it," Rove told a gathering of delegates at the party's spring convention in Sacramento. "It gives you the chance to start fresh to look everything anew and start rebuilding from the ground up in innovative and thoughtful ways that will expand our reach and expand our members."
California GOP officials invited the former aide and adviser to former President George W. Bush to address attendees as they seek to recoup from a bruising 2012 election. The party, which holds no statewide office, ceded supermajority control to legislative Democrats, lost key congressional races and dipped below 30 percent in statewide voter registration.
Rove echoed earlier remarks on the need to elect Latino and other minority candidates to local and state offices, telling state Republicans they need to go beyond talking to their traditional base. He praised Republicans in his home state of Texas for recruiting diverse candidates for statewide office, saying it's important to have Republican messengers who "look like and sound like the people they're asking for the vote from."
"If our values are universal then we have obligation to argue on behalf of values in every corner, in every crevice, in every community of our great country," he said.
Rove also urged Republicans to modernize their message, applying "timeless principles" of conservatism to new circumstances.
"It's not just the tactical stuff," Rove said. "(We've) got a strategic issue. We have great principles, but we sometimes talk about those princples in a way that makes it sound like it's in 1968 or 1980 or 2000 and it's not. It's 2012 on its way to 2014."
Rove met with county GOP chairs, Republican legislators and posed for photos with delegates at a $300-a-head reception ahead of his lunchtime speech. Lawmakers said he stressed the need to improve campaign technology and messaging efforts.
PHOTO CREDIT: Republican strategist Karl Rove speaks to the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento on Saturday AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli