A week before the Republican convention opens in Tampa, a small group of delegates and party leaders will meet to craft a set of principles and positions that will serve as the official GOP platform.
Members of the group, known as the platform committee, will argue over which issues will be included, ranging from employment to energy.
All the policy proposals, however, are built on a single foundation:
"The goal is to beat Barack Obama," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a co-chairwoman of the committee. "I think you are going to see unity on that."
The committee will not meet officially until Aug. 19-21, but in interviews with party leaders, a handful of topics emerge, giving a rough sketch of what at least part of the platform could look like:
•The economy and job creation.
"Jobs, jobs, jobs," said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, chairman of the platform committee. "I don't think there's much more important to the country."
•Repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
"If they said, 'OK, Perry, you only get one plank to put into the Republican platform,' it would be to fully repeal Obamacare, because of the cost of that to this country," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said.
•A comprehensive energy plan.
"Energy is a very hot issue with Republicans, and I think with independent voters, too," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., a member of the Senate GOP leadership who has been mentioned as a vice presidential candidate contender.
•Tax reform and a commitment to entitlement reform. Both were frequently mentioned as topics that should be considered.
The committee, which consists of two delegates from each state, must distill ideas from party leaders, activists and average voters into a document that appeals not only to the different factions of the party, but also to undecided voters who they hope will put them over the finish line in November.
The finished product will be subject to a vote by the full platform committee as well as the delegates to the convention.
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who will travel to Tampa early for the deliberations, predicted the platform will be "very condemnatory" of the Obama administration but noted that, while important, winning the White House is not a surefire way to repeal laws - like the Affordable Care Act - implemented by the administration.
"If we are going to govern, we have to have the House, the Senate and the White House, and so I think you'll see an effort in Tampa to carry all three forward simultaneously," he said.
The focus of the 2012 platform will be different from the one produced four years ago, McDonnell said, in part because that one was shaped before the financial meltdown of the banking industry.
"I think you are going to see a more significant focus on jobs, on economic development, on competitiveness ... and then, of course, on debt and deficits," he said.
The 2008 platform focused heavily on homeland security as the first of the nine issue areas addressed in the document. With the jobless rate at 5.8% when the committee met in August 2008, job growth was addressed but the word "unemployment" was only mentioned in the context of the availability of unemployment insurance.
That platform also was crafted without the influence of the Tea Party, which rose to power during the 2010 election cycle.
And this time, supporters of Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, will be among the delegates. They plan to push their own agenda during the platform meetings.
"They are a force to be reckoned with, have strong numbers, deep commitment and organizational savvy," Paul said in an e-mail.
Issues his supporter hope to have adopted include "transparency at the Federal Reserve, freedom of the Internet, rolling back the Patriot Act... real fiscal restraint through spending cuts" and "the rejection of indefinite detention of American citizens under the National Defense Authorization Act."
FreedomWorks, a Washington-based Tea Party-aligned group, has also sought to have its anti-tax activists added to the platform committee.
Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, said the group is surveying activists to find out what issues are most important to its constituency.
"We've had about a million responses so far, and I suspect we will get twice that many," Kibbe said.