Page last updated at 19:06 GMT, Friday, 7 November 2008

Divided Republicans risk disarray

Sarah Palin in Phoenix, Arizona, 4 Nov
Some unnamed McCain aides have directed attacks at Sarah Palin

Infighting has broken out in the Republican Party after its defeat in the presidential election, with Sarah Palin coming under intense fire.

Conservative US network Fox News quoted anonymous McCain aides saying that Mrs Palin did not know Africa was a continent but thought it was a country.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are divided over whether to move further to the right or become more bipartisan.

House Minority Leader John Boehner said it was "time for the losing to stop".

Mr Boehner, who is to seek two more years as the Republican leader in the House, added: "My commitment to you is that it will."

His comments come against a backdrop of backstabbing within the defeated McCain campaign.

In addition to its report about Mrs Palin's views on Africa, Fox News quoted anonymous aides suggesting she answered a morning knock at her hotel room door wearing only a towel.

Some right-wing pundits have condemned the aides for breaking campaign trail "rules" by talking to the media. They have also criticised Fox for reporting the claims.

'Broken promises'

More than 20 conservative leaders met in Virginia on Thursday to try to plot a way forward for the Republican Party.

We have got to clean up, reform and rebuild the Republican party before we can ask Americans to trust us again
Senator Jim DeMint

The Republican National Committee may elect a new chairman in January - shortly after the inauguration of Barack Obama as president - who will need to lead the party towards the next election in 2012.

Senator Jim DeMint, of South Carolina, was quoted by the Associated Press this week calling for party leaders to "embrace a bold new direction" or step aside.

The party's image had been tainted by "scandals and broken promises", he said, adding: "We have got to clean up, reform and rebuild the Republican party before we can ask Americans to trust us again."

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty predicted the party nationally was "going to go through a Dr Phil, self-analysis moment".

Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt announced on Thursday he was stepping down as House Minority Whip, the Republicans' number two role in the House.

Nonetheless, RNC chairman Mike Duncan said the party had plenty of rising stars and that it was wrong to see Tuesday's election results as "the death rattle of American conservatism".

The Republicans lost at least 19 seats in the House and at least five in the Senate, as well as seeing the White House slip from their grasp.

Meanwhile, a number of prominent Republicans are already making moves to position themselves for a fight for the party's presidential candidacy in 2012.

Mitt Romney, who lost out to Mr McCain in this year's primaries, has restarted his political action committee.

Mrs Palin, meanwhile, has indicated that she intends to stay on the national political scene, saying "I'm not doing this for naught."

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal may also be laying the groundwork for a run in 2012.

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