Who are the ‘RINOs’? “Republicans in Name Only”

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Moderate Republicans, called Â?Republicans in Name OnlyÂ? by right wing elements of the party, want the label applied to the Bush administration and its supporters instead.

­ Damian Keller’s neighbors called him a “RINO”, meaning “Republican in Name Only”, when Keller voiced his opposition to the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq. “But I support our troops, and I only disagree with the President’s Iraq policy,” protested Keller, a lifelong moderate Republican who served in the Air Force Reserves. “How easily this term is used when someone does not agree with current policies,” he added. Reflecting on the incident recently Keller told Republicans for Kerry ’04, “Our party is disintegrating in a way I never dreamed possible. It's happening from within, much like Lincoln once predicted would happen to our country: ‘America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.’”

Suzanne Hamlet Shatto, a member of Republicans for Kerry ‘04 from East Mesa, AZ, has been a Republican since she was old enough to vote. Shatto believes in the traditional Republican principles of a small government, preferring local rather than federal control, and fiscal responsibility. She also prefers fewer laws limiting personal behavior. Conservative fiscally, Shatto could also be characterized as a moderate, but in the last several years she has felt that the Republican leadership has moved away from the traditional Republican positions. “They try to bully the dissenters like me by calling us RINOs….”

Eric from Washington DC, observed, “They call everyone who is a bit different from them ‘RINOs’. The problem with the GOP,” he wrote, “is that they have forgotten how narrow their base is and how much they rely on moderates and independents to maintain control. The GOP thinks bashing gays and attacking foreigners is the route to political popularity. I think that the GOP is going to lose, and lose big in the long term if they don't return to the party’s core values. I still can't support the Dems whole-heartedly, but to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, ‘I didn't leave the Republican Party, it left me.’”

Alana Porter, a political activist and a leader of Republicans for Kerry Arizona, notes the irony in highlighting moderate Republicans during the national convention, parading their ideas around as if they represent the views of the Bush administration. Calling it “Elephants on Parade”, Alana recalled similar tactics used during the 2000 convention. “This is the only time that the moderates are allowed center stage, and after they make their presentations they’ll be hidden away and labeled ‘RINOs’ again…,” she said.

Many members of Republicans for Kerry ‘04 believe it’s time for the moderate wing of the Republican party to organize, and return to the roots of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. And they believe that with an honest review of the historical principles and ideals of the GOP we would stop using the epithet ‘RINO’. If there is any faction of the party that does not reflect the values of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt it is the Bush administration and its right wing supporters. With their ideologically-driven policies, it is the right wing supporters who are truly Republicans in name only.

For more discussion on the RINO topic visit our forum at: and contact media@republicansforkerry04.org

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Bruce Mackinlay
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