"Let us be under no illusion: Many of those who cast their vote for Republicans (Nov. 2) have their share of doubts about whether we are up to the task of governing, about whether congressional Republicans have learned our lesson," Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., told colleagues in a letter asking them to name him their new majority leader.
The GOP started the job in the bowels of the Capitol, just after 10 o'clock on the morning after its decisive House takeover. Leaders opened a transition office that will consider rule-changes and smooth the turnover of power from departing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to Boehner.
"All of us are coming back here understanding voters want this place to change in a meaningful way," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who's leading the transition.
New members who won tough campaigns vowing to change Washington will have seats at the table.
"They've been getting (input) from the American people, and if you're going to restore the trust in this institution of the American people, you'd better make sure their voice is heard," Walden said.
Key to the GOP's rebranding effort will be a theme leaders have been hitting hard in recent days: Republicans speak for the public, Obama and Democrats do not.
It's a tricky argument to sustain, particularly given that voters sent mixed messages last week about what they want.
Voters were dissatisfied with the way government was working — more than a quarter saying they're angry about it — and overwhelmingly disenchanted with Congress, according to an Associated Press analysis of exit polls.