Moreover, she adds, the party has a good bench, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and others at local levels.
"We have some amazing candidates being elected all over the country. I think it's important to showcase them," she says.
One of those women, Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama, gave a stemwinder at a convention lunch. The 36-year-old Roby, a Young Republican herself, exhorted her listeners to push their way to the front.
"Now, more than ever, our party needs bright young people engaged in meaningful conversation, with fresh ways to implement our conservative ideas," she said. "Now is your turn."
In an interview later, Roby reiterated her hope that more young Republicans will get involved, but emphasized that she sees the problem to be less a matter of Republican principles than Republican messaging.
"It's not about becoming Democrat-lite, it's about staying true to the conservative principles we hold dear," she said. "But we have to find a different way to talk about it."
Reaching across the aisle
Whether the Young Republicans will change the GOP is an open question. Some have plans to run for office; others expect to stay behind the scenes, working on grass-roots organizing or consulting.
And though there appear to be fewer differences among Young Republicans than in the national GOP, social issues can still cause friction. One Southern delegate was enthusiastic about the focus on entrepreneurship, but his voice quieted when he pondered pitching same-sex marriage to his state.
It's a longstanding split. George W. Bush found it challenging to unite the party on immigration. His father found favor with religious conservatives but lost the fiscally minded with the 1990 budget deal. Indeed, about the only GOP politician who's succeeded in bridging the chasm, says historian Critchlow, is Ronald Reagan. He dealt with various conservative blocs both as California governor and president and showed a willingness to talk with Democrats -- whether it was the legislature of California Speaker Jesse Unruh or the House of Tip O'Neill.
Still, the Young Republicans are determined to try to expand the party's base -- even to the point of metaphorically crossing the aisle. Encouraged by Stickan, the outreach committee struck an agreement with the National Urban League -- an African-American advocacy group that favors Democrats -- to partner on an Urban League program.
The Urban League runs entrepreneurship centers in 10 cities focused on improving business skills and mentoring among minorities, and the Young Republicans saw that the program aligned with their own principles, said Darius Foster, a Birmingham consultant and member of the Alabama Young Republicans.
"We might disagree with 85 or 90% of what they do, but that 10%, we can use that as inroads with the Urban League and their members," said Christopher Sanders, a Young Republican from Atlanta. The Georgia capital is going to be one of the partnership's test cities, along with Houston and Cleveland.
The YRs also paid tribute to the social-media and outreach activities of Garcia's Chicago chapter by recognizing it as the year's "outstanding large club," an award Garcia said was unexpected.
As he nears 40 and aging out of the Young Republicans, he's taking on one more job -- Midwest regional coordinator -- and believes the party is primed to make inroads.
"I've been going to these things since I could vote, and this is the first time I'm hearing people from the top of the party down talk about issues and talk about actual strategies that are actionable," Garcia says. "We have work to do, but it's more diverse, and more representative of what the party really is, than what I've seen."
Deaton, the gay Young Republican from New Hampshire, hopes that's true. He wants action, not just talk. The concept some national leaders have pushed -- "better messaging" -- drives him up a wall.
"What they're saying is there's actually nothing wrong with the Republican Party. We just don't talk about it the right way," he says. "But the problem is that some of the beliefs are also wrong. I think Americans are hungry for fiscal conservatism. I think, though, that they want a bit of a more humble foreign policy than what the GOP has been offering for the last decade, and they do want the Republican Party to take a new approach on social issues.
"It doesn't just mean repackaging or putting a new label on it," he says. "You have to change the recipe."