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Clint Eastwood’s infamous “empty chair” routine defined the 2012 Republican National Convention, but if one powerful Republican group had gotten its way, Eastwood would not have been the most famous face at the widely-panned event.

Susan Ferrechio of The Washington Examiner reports that documents filed with a lawsuit from Republican fundraising group the American Action Network reveal that the dark-money group offered Lady Gaga $1 million dollars to perform at the ill-fated convention.

According to the documents, Pete Meachum — who serves as the American Action Network’s director of development, and is currently chief of staff to Tea Party favorite and former Real World star Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) — hoped to incentivize the mega-pop star to accept the offer by instructing the booking company to tell her staff that she’d be performing at an event “honoring women who run for public office,” and to “tell them that $150,000 will go towards a domestic violence shelter.”

Lady Gaga — born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta — declined, presumably due to her outspoken support for gay rights, immigration reform, Barack Obama, and just about everything else that the Republican convention spent several days attacking.

Lady Gaga was not the only celebrity to turn the GOP down; according to the documents, country star Dolly Parton and rapper Pitbull also declined offers to join Mitt Romney’s underwhelming roster of celebrity supporters by performing at the convention. Republicans reportedly hoped to have Pitbull, who is of Cuban descent, perform at an event for the Hispanic Leadership Network.

The episode is a perfect example of the GOP’s continuing struggle to expand its tent by reaching out to women, minorities, and other groups that have supported Democrats over the past several elections. As the Republican National Committee’s 2012 “autopsy” makes clear, the party believes that it needs only to change its messaging to these groups, not its policies.

Could Pitbull have saved Romney from being drubbed by 44 percent among Hispanic voters by performing “Culo” or “Sticky Icky” at his nominating convention? We’ll never know. But that is essentially the exact same strategy that the party is still pursuing now, as it tries to chart a path back to national contention.

Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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