Huffpost Politics

GOP Heads Out On Caribbean Cruise To Re-Plot

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When Joe Six-pack suffers a severe setback, he might cry in his beer. The Republican elite could be found this week on a Caribbean cruise after being stung in the Nov. 4 elections.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson joined policy analysts and 700 subscribers who want to revive the Republican Party on the cruise hosted by the National Review, a conservative magazine.

Publisher Jack Fowler told The Associated Press during a port of call on Tuesday that their mood is upbeat despite last week's drubbing at the polls.

"No one's jumped overboard," Fowler quipped as passengers disembarked in Old San Juan. "This is a forward-thinking group."

Romney's spokesman dismissed blogosphere rumors that he is shoring up support for another presidential bid, even though he recently restarted his political action committee. The National Review endorsed Romney's 2008 candidacy.

"This is a chance for Gov. Romney to get together with some old friends to talk about the challenges facing our nation," spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said. "He believes now is the time to call on the goodwill of all Americans to help our president-elect."

Thompson, whose own bid for the GOP nomination was short-lived, tersely answered a few questions from shoreside journalists before walking up the narrow cobblestone streets in shorts and sneakers. He called the cruise a family vacation, and said he is not planning another White House run.

The National Review plays an influential role with Republican insiders. During a 2007 cruise, the magazine called on Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who hosted a reception for editors and guest speakers at the governor's mansion in Juneau.

Liberals also organize political cruises. Last year, The Nation magazine organized an Alaska trip where subscribers rubbed shoulders with left-leaning figures such as actor Richard Dreyfuss.

This cruise, the 21st hosted by the National Review, mixes leisure and politics, but Fowler said there are no panels about John McCain's running mate.

Most of the passengers booked oceanview and veranda cabins at $2,400 to $3,000 per person, according to the Cruise Authority, the U.S. company that arranged the trip. The ship is stopping in Turks and Caicos Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas before returning to Fort Lauderdale, Florida this weekend.