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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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August 16th, 2013
07:08 PM ET

Analysis: Are Republicans having a 'family discussion,' or an internal war?

"Who am I, what am I, and what's it all mean?" It's a stretch to call the Republican re-branding debate an existential crisis, but not if you ask the pundits.

Politico ran with the hyperbolic headline "Eve of Destruction," forecasting doom over the party's internal divisions.

And Thursday at the Republican National Committee gathering in Boston, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie demanded an end to the "navel-gazing."

But Friday, RNC chairman Reince Priebus fired back at both Christie, and the media.

"There are people that want to turn the healthy conversation into headlines. They want to make a family discussion look like division," said Priebus. "We should be roiled with new ideas, new leaders, and yes, internal debates."

So who's right, who's wrong, and what does it all mean for the future of the party?

"There are some people who would like to see the Republican party move left, particularly on issues like Obamacare, immigration, even things like same-sex marriage. If the republican party would do that, they would explode their base and dissipate their reason for being," said editor-in-chief for CNSNews.com Terry Jeffrey.

The debate seems to be between the congressional wing of the party, Republicans are running in districts that have strong conservative support, and "folks who want to run for president and need a national coalition, and need a lot more swing voters," said CNN contributor and The New Yorker correspondent Ryan Lizza.

"It's not that the party is moving left or right, it's that they're trying to say that, yes, we can stick to our principles, but let's not self-destruct as we try to convince the American people that we have these principles," said co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" and Democratic strategist Stephanie Cutter.

For more analysis, including on the Republican National Committee's decision to bar CNN and NBC from hosting debates, check out the video above.

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