He may have been famously nicknamed the "architect" by George W. Bush, but uber-strategist Karl Rove didn't have any elaborate reconstruction ideas for the California Republican Party in his brief visit to its weekend convention.
Instead, he simply told the party faithful to suck it up.
"My message is this: get off your ass! Get back in the game!" said Rove in his Saturday luncheon speech.
That's probably the only solid advice anyone can offer a party that's reached an historic nadir of its political fortunes. A 14 point registration gap with Democrats; only two statewide officers elected in the past decade and none since 2006; and a sense that, absent some kind of big new idea, the state's demographic changes could swallow whole the GOP's electoral hopes for years to come.
"I think the Republican party has a lot of work to do, to show that we're regular everyday people," said Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, as she and others convened for the weekend convention in Sacramento.
To listen to the formal speeches on Saturday, one might surmise that this was just another year for the state GOP. Whether it was criticism of Democrats or lauding their own party's defense of freedom, there wasn't much soul searching in the formal events.
"We need to develop a relationship with all Californians," said outgoing state party chair Tom Del Beccaro, without even a hint of irony, given the GOP's failures on that score during his two year tenure.
Del Beccaro never found a way to bridge the gap between the party's base supporters and the Californians it hoped to reach -- especially Latinos, who he courted in some publicized events but who nonetheless helped push Democrats to historic wins in legislative and congressional races in 2012.
The Republican saga over Latino voters in California has been a dominant theme now for almost two decades, and may have exacerbated the party's lack of ability to compete.
"I think it's important to have two competitive parties that are competing for the Latino vote," said Ruben Barrales, the newly minted leader of a group called GROW Elect that seeks to get more Latino GOP candidates in the winning column on Election Day.
And he didn't mince words about the task ahead on that front.
"This problem is huge," said Barrales, a former Bush administration official.
The weekend convention will end with the selection of Jim Brulte, a former legislative leader widely regarded as a steady hand, as the state party's next chairman. And his first task seems to be to stop the financial bleeding. The party's last campaign finance report showed unpaid debts of $433,830, and Brulte has said recently that the true hole could be almost twice as deep. That's an especially bad place to be some 15 months way from the June 2014 primary in a state where Democrats dominate... and have more than $11.1 million sitting in their own bank account.
Whether the state GOP can do more than launch some small, targeted assaults in 2014 remains unclear. The complete absence of a clear contender for the party's gubernatorial nomination (though some were the subject of rumblings over the weekend) is one sign that it could take more than one election cycle for a Republican re-calibration.
In which case, perhaps Karl Rove did offer some sage advice in a speech that otherwise was filled with national GOP talking points.
"Losing has one great benefit to it," Rove said before he quickly jetted out of town. "It allows you to start fresh."