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U.S. billionaires huddle on new electoral strategy

What are some of the wealthiest American conservatives planning next week, when they gather in Palm Springs for the first major group huddle since the 2012 election?

Mother Jones magazine got part of the answer today, publishing a leaked preview of the April 28-29 retreat, which will see the release of a long-awaited post-mortem of the Republican failure to bar the door to President Barack Obama's re-election.

The so-called "billionaire's caucus" of wealthy conservative donors happens in Palm Springs at the behest of Charles Koch, elder half of the industrialist Koch brothers.

The Kochs have led such gatherings regularly since 2003, but this one promises to be a bit different, offering an exclusive, no-holds-barred analysis of how America's changing demographics have cast a long-term cloud over the conservative quest for political power.

The gathering is expected to lay out new strategies "to recruit and train political candidates" sympathetic to the Kochs free-market worldview, with particularly emphasis on improving conservative outreach to "growing demographics" such as Hispanics, young people and women.

Those are, of course, the demographics upon which the Mitt Romney campaign crumpled last November, an outcome that left many U.S. conservatives in a state of existential angst.

The Koch retreat is also expected to put conservative political donations under the microscope in the hope of getting better bang for their bucks in future elections.

"Understanding key customer segments -- and more importantly, the issues that matter to them -- will be crucial to educating and mobilizing key constituencies," the conference preview says.

Improving the message is one way to do that. Another would be to buy up the megaphones, which Koch Industries is now considering, according to a New York Times report outlining the company's plans to acquire major American newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Mitch Potter is the Star's Washington Bureau Chief, his third foreign posting after previous assignments to London and Jerusalem. Potter led the Star’s coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he won a 2006 National Newspaper Award for his reportage. His dispatches include datelines from 33 countries since 2000. Follow him on Twitter: @MPwrites



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