Thanks to Morton Blackwell, RNC member from Virginia, for preparing these questions for candidates for the RNC Chairman and to Chuck Muth for posting them on his blog.
Questionnaire for Candidates forChairman of the Republican National Committee
Prepared and distributed to candidates for RNC chairman November 25, 2008, by Morton C. Blackwell, Virginia Republican National Committeeman. The answers are just as provided by Saul Anuzis of Michigan, Ken Blackwell of Ohio, Katon Dawson of South Carolina, Mike Duncan of Kentucky, John “Chip” Saltsman of Tennessee, and Michael Steele of Maryland.
1.Democrats beat Republicans badly on the ground in 2008 by pouring vast amounts of time, talent, and money into an unprecedented, high-tech effort to identify and register supporters, communicate to those supporters, and get them to vote.
As RNC chairman, what would you do to make sure that Democrats do not have a comparable ground-game advantage in 2010?
Saul Anuzis: The challenges we faced in 2008 had less to do with infrastructure and more to do with a passion deficit that our party experienced throughout 2008. The articulation of good ideas breeds passion; Passion breeds excitement; excitement breeds volunteers, and volunteers are the life’s blood of a political ground game. So our first task is to be the party that is effectively communicating conservative ideas, so that we can once again stir the passions of our nation. Then, we have to do an operational and programmatic audit of every aspect of what the RNC currently does and make adjustments accordingly. On some fronts, the RNC is doing a great job. In other areas, we need to make tweaks, and in yet other areas, we need to completely revamp the system. I plan to seek input from those that have run successful campaigns; candidates; and state party leaders to make the changes necessary to be successful nationally.
Ken Blackwell: Developing a nationwide ground game will be one of my top priorities. However, to have an exceptional ground game, our Party must first inspire thousands of people who can then be activated to work for our shared values during the election cycle. Lately, our party has become overly focused on mechanics while failing to articulate a clear, concise, positive and practical message. To inspire enough prospective Republican volunteers to be a part of a new “ground game,” we must stand firm for our core beliefs: Limited government, traditional values and a strong national defense. If we become the “Obama lite” party, we will not be able to recruit the substantial number of volunteers needed for such a massive effort.
As chairman of the Republican Party, I will lead by articulating a clear conservative vision that paints in bold strokes, not pale pastels. Doing so will rally a dispirited Republican base and present a vision that stands in stark contrast to the failed left wing policies of the Obama Administration. This is the first and most important step we can take to rebuild the ground game of the Republican Party.
The second part of developing a nationwide ground game will be more difficult and much more expensive than many imagine. We cannot wait until 2010 to begin working but must start right away. In general, Republicans must recruit people in every area and in every walk of life who will help us spread our message of hope and optimism.
Republicans must recruit a new generation of precinct leaders and block captains. Since one size does not fit all, people will be encouraged to organize in a manner that best fits their lifestyles and talents. We will strive to develop new models to complement the traditional model that works so well in many areas. For example, models may include friend to friend programs utilizing the telephone or Internet.
Within the first 30 days after I take office, I will call a nationwide summit to develop a new ground game for the Republican Party. No such effort can be effective without leadership from the top. I will personally preside over the summit. I will personally walk door to door in Ohio. I will personally participate in a “friend to friend” or “friends and family” voter ID program. I will lead by example, and I will challenge every staff member and RNC member to participate, too.
But first, we must develop a national consensus on what the best, most effective ground game will be. I would not suggest a typical RNC program that dictates to states the way it must ID voters. Rather, I want to develop a new era of cooperation in which state and local leaders committed to having an effective ground game help develop the plan from inception. Theory will get us nowhere. We need something that will work in the field. Any successful 72 hour programs or state and local precinct organizations that are functioning will be closely examined to see if the effective components can be used or implemented elsewhere. I envision a nearly paperless ground operation in which all data is permanently stored, electronically edited and kept for use by state parties in future years.
As outlined in my December 5, 2008 announcement letter, I want to pursue employing a large number of field workers to supplement our volunteer effort to register new voters. I would focus on three projects:
* Hire coordinators to work with churches and other conservative organizations across the country to help them sign up the members of their congregations who are not registered to vote;
* Expend an unprecedented amount of RNC funding to build vibrant College Republican chapters on every major university campus in the nation and use those chapters as a base to register young people to join the Republican Party, and;
* Hire teams of workers to walk door to door in targeted neighborhoods to register voters.
I am aware of the legal hurdles that we would need to clear to implement these three programs, and I believe that we can do so effectively. I also believe that we can incorporate fundraising into these projects to offset much of the cost.
Katon Dawson: If we are to truly spread our message of conservatism across America and have it once again resonate with voters from all walks of life, the Republican Party must have a presence on “Main Street America”.
In 2008, the GOP’s strategy of “winning 50 percent plus one” and sticking strictly to the electoral math cost us dearly. The result was Democrats making gains almost everywhere — even in the reddest of states. Our message was lost and good candidates didn’t have a chance due to the monetary and strategic advantages of the Obama campaign. Republicans can’t wait until the next election season to improve our on the ground operation — the rebuilding must start now.
For decades, Republicans have neglected urban areas and the Northeastern United States. Our party didn’t invest where it thought it couldn’t win, and now conservatism is stale or nearly dead in these areas. The consequences can be felt all the way down to the local and state levels, where unchecked increases in taxes and spending and failing school systems are now commonplace. All of this is unacceptable to voters, and should be unacceptable to the Republican Party.
That is why I am spearheading Project 3141, an effort to build our Party’s state and local organizations and push the Republican message in all of our nation’s 3,141 counties. By creating a presence in each county, we will be able to communicate directly with individual communities. Republicans can offer these communities conservative solutions to the problems they face and show Americans from all walks of life — from rural communities to urban areas — that conservatism works.
All counties in America have different identities and different needs, even if they are in the same geographic region or the same state. Voters will begin to see that Republican solutions can be applied to a wide range of issues; that we can also fix our failing schools, make healthcare more affordable for small business owners and families, and preserve our natural resources. Americans will indeed see that there is room for everyone under our banner of strong traditional values.
My plan for Project 3141 is twofold. First, it allows us to infiltrate areas that are solidly Democrat or have been neglected by our Party in the past, and it allows us to strengthen the conservative movement in areas where Republicans have made gains.
In counties and regions that are historically blue or have recently become blue, the GOP needs to make a considerable push to reach voters and build grassroots organizations. The party switching of the past will never happen again if the Republican Party does not start reaching out to every community in every region.By strengthening Republican organizations in each of these blue counties and recruiting candidates to run for every office on the ballot, voters will see a clearer distinction among Democrats and Republicans. I believe our candidates will start winning once communities realize that Republican solutions lead to job creation and greater opportunities for families, and state and local governments now dominated by Democrats will experience a common sense check in government.
But most importantly, the seed will be planted in these blue counties for a conservative alternative that will only grow in future generations.
Project 3141 is also imperative to those counties that have existing or thriving Republican grassroots organizations. We must not take our victories for granted, and we must not become idle in these GOP strongholds. We must recognize the potential for Democrats to make inroads to traditional Republican strongholds — the 2008 election proved the Obama campaign was successful at doing just that. Project 3141 will enable the Republican Party to strengthen our county organizations.
Coalition building is imperative to a successful party organization. By rebuilding the Republican Party starting at the county level, our conservative message will be organically planted into existing community groups and organizations.
With the approach of the 2010 Census and the potential for congressional redistricting, organizing in each county through Project 3141 also provides a better roadmap for victory. Instead of reacting to the addition or subtraction of districts in each state, the Republican Party will already be proactive in preparing for each congressional race wherever the lines are drawn.
Project 3141 calls for considerable effort from the Republican National Committee to help empower our state parties and county organizations. Coordination and communication among existing and future organizations will be tantamount in the projects success. County organizations and regional field operations must have the tools they need. Both existing resources, such as Voter Vault and existing e mail and volunteer lists, and new resources, such as outreach with new media, must be used to get the job done. County party leaders with thriving organizations can mentor counties that are just forming with the RNC providing further support as needed.
The future of our party depends on our ability to communicate our conservative message to all Americans. Project 3,141 will help accomplish that goal.
One key to our success will be developing and deploying a comprehensive technology strategy. My Operation eGOP plan sets several priorities that will integrate the latest information technology across all RNC departments to save cost, increase productivity, recruit new activists and influence elections at all levels of government.
The RNC will create regional eCampaign Directors to work with state and local parties to guarantee that they have the resources necessary to execute their plans. The eCampaign Directors will be expected to work with state party staff to assist them in their effort to learn and use tactics with new media, social networking and other Web 2.0 applications
Second, the RNC will invest in new technology to build a platform so that multiple vendors can use RNC technological and information resources for candidate websites and tools. The RNC will use a competitive bidding process by seeking solutions from the leading information technology and Web 2.0 companies in the world.
Third, the RNC will invest in a robust and open social network that allows our activists to network and share ideas to make them more effective advocates for our party. The network should allow activists and users to create their own applications to improve and expand the network
Finally, we will commit to recruiting 5 million new online activists. Technology is rapidly changing American politics. To be successful at the ballot box the RNC must embrace and capitalize on it.
Mike Duncan: In 2008, the Obama Campaign put forward the best ground game that Republicans have ever faced. They accomplished this by raising and spending unprecedented amounts of money that paid for offices and staff to offset every Republican volunteer. They have also effectively broken the public financing system for Presidential campaigns.
While we can learn from our opponents, I firmly believe that the media has created a myth that Republicans forgot how to run a ground game. The RNC had one of the most robust ground games in history, contacting twice as many voters by and phone and by door to door activity as we did in 2004. Our Victory efforts in Georgia for the run off election of US Senator Saxby Chambliss are a great example of what can be done when everyone works together. Our early vote/absentee ballot program gave Saxby a lead of 200,000 votes going into Election Day, an advantage he did not have in the General Election.
One area where we must improve is in capturing votes before Election Day. Methods of early voting are growing in popularity and our traditional “72 Hour” volunteer model is no longer adequate. For example, we need to help State Parties better integrate online social networks and other new media technologies into our voter turnout strategy, as the RNC was able to do in the Georgia run off election. As a part of my focus on making the RNC a Member driven committee, I will ask RNC Members to volunteer on a working group to identify best practices for early voting and make recommendations for all State Parties to consider.
I am also calling for resources to be committed in every state via Partnership 2010, an initiative that will support a paid staff member for every State Party to assist with Victory programs, voter registration, candidate recruitment, and redistricting/reapportionment.
John “Chip” Saltsman: As Republicans, we must ensure that all fifty states have a strong party infrastructure capable of winning elections at all levels of government and in all political environments. As RNC Chairman, I will begin my term by consulting with each state’s Chairman, Committeeman, and Committeewoman to develop a comprehensive strategy for voter registration, voter identification, and voter mobilization. Working together with state party leaders, we will identify the most effective techniques and programs and, where applicable, urge state officials to adopt the best practices of their colleagues. My state based strategy, coupled with a major investment in technology by the national party, will help Republicans leapfrog the Democrats’ online advantages from the 2008 cycle. However, I want to emphasize that technology, in and of itself, did not produce the superior Democratic ground game in 2008. A strong ground game is directly linked to voter motivation. The Democrats were simply more inspired to act in 2008. Without strong and appealing ideas and attractive candidates, all the technology in the world will not produce success at the ballot box.
Michael Steele: As Chairman, starting day one, I will focus the RNC’s energy, time, and resources towards building our grassroots thru our State Parties. We can’t wait until a few weeks before an election to mobilize our ground troops and expect positive results. In fact, any ground game strategy must begin in 2009 in Virginia and New Jersey!
We need to update our technology while adjusting and developing new winning strategies. This will only happen if we invest early in technology while at the same time exploring ways to maintain that personal voter touch that only the Grassroots can provide. Our efforts should begin with strategically targeted voter registration programs designed to build the ground infrastructure and supporter network simultaneously.
Democrats had a far superior ground game in 2008. They invested heavily in it. They also had a unified message that energized liberals within the party and allied groups outside it. Traditional Republicans voters were far less energized (and our allied groups were fractured and scattered). In short, our conservative base depressed and disconnected.
As Chairman, I will work with every state and local Party organization to craft a unified strategy that will prove effective in each of the 435 congressional districts but will have devastating results when leveraged across 50 states and one nation. We will form a disciplined, tight knit, responsive network to build a vigorous and representative national Republican presence.
It will be my goal to recruit and train 25,000 grassroots activist leaders by 2012 drawn from every state in the union. Many of these folks will become campaign managers. Others will help organize, train, and mobilize volunteer organizations in their communities. Our Party will re engage its base and the beat the Democrats!
2.When Democrats hold the White House, the RNC chairman has a greatly increased role in advocating what the Republican Party stands for.
Many conservatives are intensely unhappy with the failure of party leaders to advance outspokenly the conservative principles of limited government, free enterprise, traditional values, and strong national defense.
Social conservatives, especially, have been heard to say they are treated by Republican leaders as Democrats treated American blacks. That is, the party wants and gets all our votes but then pays little or no attention to us.
Given the election results of 2008, conservatives might ask whether or not that means that next time we get to elect one of us as President of the United States.
No issue politically important to major elements of the Democrats’ coalition is absent from the Democrats’ communications.
As RNC chairman, what would you do to make sure that the RNC, in a balanced way, speaks out for the social issues so important to a huge number of potential Republican voters and so clearly stated in the democratically written and unanimously adopted 2008 National Republican Platform?
Saul Anuzis: Our party will win when we start talking about the center right conservative values that made us a majority party for most of the last 30 years. We are a coalition of social, economic, foreign affairs and cultural conservatives…all are part of our winning coalition. We need to address all the issues facing our country. Specifically on social issues, we need to articulate our conservative philosophy in a compassionate manner that attracts people to our position through common sense.
Ken Blackwell: Primarily, I will continue to speak out on the broad spectrum of issues important to the Republican coalition, including life and marriage, and will instruct my staff to do the same. We must reach out to all those who share our values, especially those who have provided the margin of victory in two presidential elections during the last decade. Social conservatives are an important part of a winning coalition, and we must let them know that we understand their importance.
Targeting our messages to various demographic groups can minimize alienation of those voters who are may not be moved by a conservative social agenda or, for that matter, any other set of issues. While we absolutely must deliver a socially conservative message in our general media efforts, we can supplement it with targeted media as well. We ignore and take for granted core constituencies at our own peril. If we contend that social conservatives have “nowhere to go,” we may be right. Next election, they might just stay home.
Katon Dawson: As a party, we should never back down from respecting the sanctity of life or defend the institution of marriage. Indeed, we should always speak out to protect, strengthen and encourage the family as the bedrock of the American experience. Many independent voters and Reagan Democrats agree with us on those issues. These are among our bedrock beliefs as the conservative party in America, and the next RNC chairman must never waver in his or her support for them. I won’t.
Mike Duncan: First, I completely support the Republican Party Platform, which I think is one of the clearest and best statements of GOP core conservative values that has been presented to the American public. Second, I will ensure that principles embodied in the Platform will serve as a guide for the Republican Party’s activities by creating the Center for Republican Renewal. Similar to policy efforts at the RNC in 1977 and again in 1993, this Center will be a forum for the RNC to work hand in hand with our House and Senate caucuses and conservative organizations across the country to ensure that our conservative message is formed and articulated effectively. Third, we will reconstitute the RNC Speakers Bureau, where we will make sure talented and informed surrogate speakers are carrying the conservative message to every corner of the country. Fourth, the RNC will participate in the regular meetings of conservative groups and the RNC will host frequent meetings with RNC Members and movement conservatives. One of my primary beliefs as we move forward is that the Republican Party must return to its core conservative values, and our programs will be designed to accomplish that goal.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Republicans are successful when they are faithful to conservative ideals - smaller government, lower taxes, family values. Unfortunately, in recent years, actions by our elected officials have diverged from the party’s ideological pillars. So, I fully appreciate the problems that social conservatives and fiscal conservatives have had with our party. I know that we must effectively communicate with disheartened supporters and communities of voters who share our core principles. And I believe that it is imperative for the next RNC Chairman to make all members of our coalition feel at home in the Republican Party, while adding new supporters to the GOP family.
Michael Steele: Well, as Chairman I would begin by restating: We are the Conservative Party of this Great Nation. We value life, born and unborn; we value hard work and individual initiative; we value service to our nation and to our community; but most of all we value the rights of individuals to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. As a strong social and fiscal conservative, I will continue to embrace — not take advantage of the conservatives of our Party.
I also recognize that good Republicans can disagree from time to time. But the answer to returning to a ruling majority is not to abandon our principles or abandon our National Republican Platform but to embrace all of it and articulate its message in such a manner that we inspire and move a nation towards once again embracing conservative Republican principals and policies.
3.During a Republican presidency, the RNC is in many ways an appendage of the White House. Democrats now control the elected branches of our federal government.
As RNC chairman, would you speak out forcefully against White House and congressional plans to increase government spending and regulations?
Saul Anuzis: Yes.
Ken Blackwell: Yes, and I would enjoy every minute of it. I would speak out forcefully against tax increases, deficit spending and bail outs of Washington politicians. In Ohio, I helped to lead the fight against a tax increase proposed by a Republican governor. I will not hesitate to do the same against Democrat proposals.
Katon Dawson: Our Party must renew its commitment to the Republican principles of less government spending, lower taxes, individual freedom, strong national security, respect for the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and the importance of family. As RNC chairman I will do exactly that.
Mike Duncan: Yes. The RNC will be a consistent and dependable voice in opposition to any plans to burden the American people with increased spending and regulations. However, it is not enough for us to be the party of “no.” We must also recapture our legacy as the party of ideas and of liberty.
When we speak out against something, we must also be able to articulate what we are for. Through the Center for Republican Renewal, we will offer Americans a clear idea of what the specific Republican alternatives would be to the tax, spend and regulate plans of the Democrats.
John “Chip” Saltsman: In this political environment, it is essential that the RNC Chairman forcefully underscore the party’s opposition to expanded government spending and excessive regulation. The RNC must work closely with our congressional leadership and our state officials to oppose the Democrats’ inevitable attempts to grow the power of the federal government, diminish individual responsibility, and pick the nation’s economic winners and losers. RNC resources - political, communication, research - should be utilized to oppose the Democrats’ reckless plans. The party should assist elected officials in publicizing new conservative ideas coming from leading think tanks and scholars. And the party should help state officials turn these ideas into successful policy initiatives.
Michael Steele: Key to our Republican ideals is the notion of fiscal restraint and limited government. In recent years, however, Republicans in leadership have violated these principals. Unless we restore our credibility as the Party best equipped to reduce spending, constrain government growth, and cut taxes, we will continue to lose elections.
Some have claimed it’s not the role of the RNC to determine the Republican policy message. They say such things are better left to Republican leaders in Congress. I disagree.
Just a few of the initiatives I will pursue as RNC Chairman include: 1. Reestablish the Republican Party as the party of fiscal responsibility and limited government; 2. Improve issue communications and messaging by fostering collaboration with center right think tanks, voter outreach groups, and media outlets who focus on innovative conservative policy ideas; 3. Make messaging and policy preparation an integral part of a new, more intense approach to training seminars for grassroots activists, candidates, and campaign professionals; 4. Commission both quantitative and qualitative research to identify appropriate methods to present and promote conservative Republican principals and ideals, then make those research conclusions available to every State and Local Republican Party and every Republican candidate; 5. Engage RNC members, State and Local Republican volunteer leaders, staff, and consultants in an ongoing dialogue about our message; 6. Establish partnerships with Republican Governors, legislative leaders, and members of Congress to identify best practices and innovative strategies that are working in the States and implement them nationally.
4.Have you read the 2008 Republican National Platform? Do you agree with it?
Saul Anuzis: Yes. Yes.
Ken Blackwell: Yes and Yes. I served as Vice Chairman of the Platform Committee in Minneapolis. I’m very proud of the document we adopted.
Katon Dawson: Yes.
Mike Duncan: Yes. As Chairman, I could not be more proud of the document that was adopted by the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Our Platform presents our conservative vision in a way that is clear, straightforward, and concise. We were able to reduce the size of the Platform by almost fifty percent. Yet, we also opened the process for every American to contribute ideas at www.GOPPlatform2008.com. We crafted our platform in front of the media and the entire country because, as Republicans, we are proud of who we are and what we stand for. I am very excited that our platform will serve as the basis for the Center for Republican Renewal, which will take the principles of the Platform and develop policy ideas and recommendations to provide the American people with a conservative alternative to the Democrat policies of bigger government and higher taxes.
John “Chip” Saltsman: I have read and I support the Republican National Platform. That said, in my sixteen years in politics, I’ve only agreed with one person 100 percent of the time - and that’s me. United by our commitment to fiscal responsibility, traditional moral values, and a robust national defense, our party must be strong enough to welcome public servants and voters who have a wide range of priorities and perspectives. The United States is a diverse nation of over 300 million people. While we cannot expect voters supporting Republican candidates to agree with the party platform on every issue, we must articulate and abide by the central principles of that platform.
Michael Steele: I have read the Platform. And I strongly agree with it and will support it.
5.In particular, do you agree with and fully support the 2008 pro-life plank, which is essentially the same language as was in the Platforms of 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004?
Saul Anuzis: Yes.
Ken Blackwell: Yes…and I will support keeping the pro life plank in the Republican Party platform in 2012. I support and commend the Republican National Coalition for Life for doing great work.
Katon Dawson: Yes.
Mike Duncan: Yes. I not only support our pro life plank as chairman, but I also support it as an individual. We are and will be the party of life.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Yes, I support the pro life plank of the Republican National Platform. I have a deep and abiding respect for the sanctity of human life in all of its form, and I have never swayed from this belief during my many years in Republican politics.
Michael Steele: I have always been, and will always be, pro life. I oppose abortion, period. I defended that position as Lieutenant Governor and as a candidate for the United States Senate in Maryland in 2006. I support the pro life position in the platform and am committed to keeping it.
6.The feminists’ attack on marriage was one major reason why unmarried women voted for Sen. Obama over Sen. McCain by a staggering 70% to 29%.
Do you agree that Republicans must support marriage and cut off the many incentives to divorce and unmarried motherhood that now exist in federal law and spending?
Saul Anuzis: I do not support incentives that encourage people to divorce or to produce children out of wedlock.
Ken Blackwell: Yes, I agree. Additionally, I helped to successfully lead the fight to amend the Ohio Constitution to ban government recognition of same sex marriages. The Marriage Amendment passed with 61% of the vote, despite opposition from many of Ohio’s leading Republicans.
Katon Dawson: Yes.
Mike Duncan: Yes. The Republican Party is the party of strong families and government should have no role in incentivizing divorce. However, we must not allow ourselves to write off any votes, especially those of unmarried women. How we improve our communications with unmarried women and other groups of voters will be the topic of one of RNC Member chaired working groups that I have proposed. One way to make sure the RNC is operating as a Member driven committee is to take advantage of the experience and knowledge of our Members.
John “Chip” Saltsman: I strongly support the essential institution of marriage - defined as the union of one man and one woman. I will support any initiative to promote, protect, and defend the strength and stability of marriage in our society.
Michael Steele: Yes. The Republican Party must not only continue to be the party that defends traditional marriage as a union between one man and one woman but also advocates for government policies (federal, state and local) that encourages and promotes marriage and family. About 40% of the children born in the U.S. today are born to a one parent family. That number is sadly even higher in minority communities. So when you look at the election results for Proposition 8 in California, what does that tell you? What steps should our Party take to begin to engage those voters who have spoken rather clearly about the sanctity of marriage? Moreover, the lack of fathers in homes is one major cause of the social and moral turmoil confronting our society today. Despite the drumbeat to the contrary, our leadership (political and legislative) has a responsibility (and an opportunity) to advocate on behalf of new incentives to promote traditional marriage, adoption, and strong families.
7.The New York Times headlined “Goodbye Reagan Democrats.” Jobs are a major issue for Reagan Democrats, and many jobs are rapidly disappearing across America right now.
What should Republicans do to convince those who have lost their jobs or fear they may lose their jobs that Republican policies will result in more jobs than Democrat policies?
Saul Anuzis: We have to explain the principles of the free market and better articulate the principles of the opportunity society for all. When Ronald Reagan spoke of the American dream, he made people believe that it was available to all. We must recapture that same spirit.
Ken Blackwell: Republicans must consistently communicate how implementing conservative policies are far better at creating jobs, and we can point to history to make our case. The tax cuts passed by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were followed by significant eras of job creation and economic growth. Our party has been very successful in educating the general public and members of the media about the economic benefits of tax cuts since Jack Kemp began presenting a new, positive and optimistic conservatism during the late ’70’s. This is one thing we’ve done very well, but we must seek to do even better.
In addition to touting the economic and employment benefits of lower taxes, we must once again begin educating the public about the moral superiority of limited government over the concept of big government socialism. At some point, it becomes morally wrong for government to take too large a percentage of a person’s income. We can all argue about what that percentage is, but we must make the point that big government socialism is morally wrong. This is a discussion that we should be having on a year round basis with the American people.
We should also strongly encourage Republican members of Congress to vote against tax increases, deficit spending and “bail outs.” We must “un blur” the lines between Democrats and Republicans. When the RNC Chairman advocates one thing on national television while a significant number of Republicans in federal office are voting the opposite way, the voters think that we are inconsistent and lose trust in our party. We need to draw a few lines in the sand on fiscal issues — not only because it is right — but also because it will give us a strong electoral advantage.
Katon Dawson: The Republican Party was once known as the party of small business, entrepreneurship and enterprise. That mantle was lost when our leaders promoted big government, big spending and more mandates and regulation.
Small business creates more than 80 percent of jobs in America. Yet our party spent too much time focusing on federal government policy and not enough time focusing on freeing up our most productive class — America’s small businessmen and women. Hard economic times mean small businesses are being squeezed. The easier we can make it for entrepreneurs to do what they do best through lower taxes and fewer needless regulations the more jobs will be created.
Mike Duncan: Small businesses continue to be the real driving force behind jobs and growth in our nation. As a successful small business owner, I personally understand the impact that small business can have in communities across our country. We must deliver a message that helps Americans understand that Democrat policies of taxing and regulating small businesses will be job killers and will stifle economic opportunities. In addition, our message must specifically address the kitchen table concerns and aspirations of middle class Americans.
We will present the Republican alternative — less government interference in small businesses, and tax incentives to encourage small business creation and growth so that individuals have the freedom to accomplish their dreams. Through our Center for Republican Renewal, we will propose policies that encourage private sector investment and reward innovation. We will also recognize that the government cannot simply spend its way out of our current economic challenges and we will hold our elected leaders accountable for the proposals they put forward.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Surprise, surprise, The New York Times is wrong on many levels. While the notion of “Reagan Democrats” is largely a phenomenon of a by gone era, their philosophical descendants still support responsible, conservative fiscal policies, strong national defense and tough action against crime. Many of these voters joined our party, but too many of them have become disaffected with the Republican brand. Many voters just don’t believe Republican fiscal promises given the dramatic increase in the size and scope of the federal government over the past eight years. Indeed, national exit polls this November showed that voters believed Democrats were more likely to cut federal spending and to cut their taxes. Republicans can win back the modern heirs of Reagan Democrats by working against liberal attempts to spend our way out of the current crisis and by fighting for lower taxes for all Americans.
Michael Steele: People who have lost their jobs want to know how Republican policies will grow the economy and create more opportunity.
The GOP’s message of lower taxes, less spending, and a smaller government benefits EVERY American, regardless of Party, or social status.
Under my leadership, the RNC will: 1. Always advocate for a stronger economy through less waste, lower taxes, and policies that promote small business growth; 2. Work closely with Republican Governors, state legislatures, and local elected officials to aggressively promote innovative and successful policy solutions designed to grow the economy and create jobs; 3. Partner with right of center advocacy groups who promote and develop policy ideas based on the principles of fiscal responsibility, economic growth, and individual empowerment. But most especially I want to take the message across this country that we will fight not only for people to get a job but to own the business!
8.The liberal media are trying to sell two contradictory messages about the 2008 elections.
First, that 52% of the popular vote is an overwhelming mandate for Barak Obama to move America massively to the left.
Second, that the 52% of the vote cast in California for Proposition 8, the Marriage Amendment, was such a squeaker that the victory has no long-term significance.
In fact, exit polls on November 4 showed that hispanics and blacks in California voted overwhelmingly for Proposition 8.This indicates an opening for the Republican Party, which can attract large numbers of currently Democratic-leaning minorities on social issues which already are high priorities for most people who usually vote Republican.
As RNC chairman, what would you do to take advantage of this opening to broaden the base of the Republican Party?
Saul Anuzis: I believe we need to have a sustained and concentrated effort to grow our party among African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans. The Democrats will be under enormous pressure to finally deliver on the many hollow promises that they have made to minorities. They simply won’t. This provides our party the opportunity to articulate the free market philosophy that allows anyone to achieve if they have the will. We must also seek to find common ground on social issues, particularly with minorities with strong religious leanings.
Ken Blackwell: You make an excellent point. Republicans can broaden the base without compromising principle. The Republican Revolution occurring right now in Louisiana is proof. Governor Bobby Jindal and Congressmen elect Ahn “Joseph” Cao, two young Americans of Asian heritage, are both conservatives who won difficult races in Democrat strongholds. Louisiana Republicans elected three physicians to Congress this year, including two conservative freshmen. Louisiana Republicans have given us a model on which to build a broad, new Republican majority. But their strategy is based on sticking to principle, not abandoning it.
Americans of Hispanic heritage rightly belong in the Republican Party because we share so many values. We must build relationships in the communities and appeal to them on our shared values such as support for our armed forces, social issues and economic opportunity. But our strategy to win the bulk of the Hispanic vote cannot involve granting amnesty for illegal aliens or foregoing our national sovereignty and failing to secure our borders.
Katon Dawson: Hispanics, blacks and other minorities across America are natural constituents for the Republican Party. Many are socially conservative, as illustrated by the California Proposition 8 exit polls. This is a little noticed but welcome opening for our message.
America’s motto is “E Pluribus Unum” out of many, one. Republicans have always been proud of the varied peoples who contributed to America’s success. Make no mistake: President elect Obama’s victory was historic, but there are many Americans from many different races who profoundly disagree with him and the Democrats on important issues. We must redouble our efforts to welcome minorities to the Republican Party by demonstrating our commitment to personal freedom and the conservative ideals of faith, family and free enterprise that are the foundation of our party and which unite us as Americans.
In my home state, we have made outreach to non traditional Republican voters a top priority. Those initiatives have paid off with historic electoral success. In 2004, Republicans in South Carolina elected the first Indian American Republican legislator in the country when the voters of State House District 87 sent Nikki Haley to represent them in the General Assembly. But it didn’t stop there. This past May, Glenn McCall was the first African American from South Carolina to be elected to serve on the Republican National Committee. And on November 4, 2008, Tim Scott became the first African American Republican elected to the South Carolina General Assembly since Reconstruction. Haley, McCall and Scott are compelling conservative candidates with broad crossover appeal who walk the walk and talk the talk.
In the past century, people from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Western Europe came here to build a new life, live by our laws and receive the bounty and blessings America had to offer. Today, Hispanics, Asians and others come here to contribute to America’s success. The same rules should apply now as did in our past: obey our immigration laws, support yourself and family, contribute to your community and serve your country.
Today, Hispanics represent the fastest growing and largest minority group in the country. In 2004, 44 percent of Hispanics voted for President Bush, but in 2008 only 31 percent voted for John McCain. Similarly, we lost nearly 10 points among Asian Americans between 2004 and 2008. Meanwhile, young voters 18 to 29 voted for Obama by a margin of 2 to 1. Our Republican message of entrepreneurship, individual rights and conservative values was not properly articulated to Hispanics and Asians. Their values of hard work, sacrifice and admiration for our military are our values. We must work reach these new voters by communicating our principles instead of promoting dependence on government which will destroy their American dream.
Mike Duncan: As Chairman, I will make sure that the Republican Party will be speaking with all audiences to share our conservative message. These shared values create the entry point to begin a broader dialogue about social and economic conservative values. For example, the key to success for minority owned small businesses is to make sure the Government does not stifle their success with high taxes and unnecessary regulations. Our common beliefs in family and social values, in the role of faith and the importance of life, and in the fundamental basis of liberty that created our nation create an opportunity for the Republican Party to attract traditional Democrat leaning minority groups.
In every state, we need RNC Members to help focus outreach efforts of the RNC Speakers Bureau by recommending speaking opportunities for surrogates or by stepping in as a surrogate themselves. Our Center for Republican Renewal will be critical to this effort as it will collect data and develop the right conservative message to share with different audiences across the country. Armed with the facts, our Members and other surrogates can share the natural alliances that exist between certain demographic groups and the Republican Party.
John “Chip” Saltsman: The liberal media always wants to have it both ways, as long as both ways damage Republicans. The fact is that Hispanics, African Americans, Asian and Jewish voters and many other minorities have ideological bonds with Republicans but have often felt uncomfortable within the confines of our party. Protecting marriage between one man and one woman is but one example. Strong support of Israel by Republican officials is another. Party leaders must effectively communicate with and sincerely listen to these groups. By action and deed, we must convince minority voters to trust the Republican Party again. We must take the members only sign off the clubhouse door and throw out the welcome mat. The party of Abraham Lincoln can do no less.
Michael Steele: First, conservatives must act in a genuine way to demonstrate the truth of America: that every American regardless his or her station in life, upbringing or social status has the opportunity to turn their hopes into action and to realize the promise that is the American dream! Second, conservatives must act to demonstrate the truth of the Republican Party: that as the party of Lincoln stood with those whose hands and feet were shackled over a century ago, today we will stand with those who are shackled by the soft bigotry of low expectations in education, the de humanizing effects of addiction and poverty and the hopelessness of lost opportunity at the hands of an opportunistic government. In other words, we must demonstrate that we are prepared to move outside our comfort zone.
As a conservative, I have served our party as a County Chairman in an overwhelmingly African American community (registration 5 1). I know how African Americans and other minorities view the Republican Party and I have proven I know how to engage the dialogue necessary to reestablish trust and support for our candidates and our party as a whole.
I am convinced our messages on traditional values and economic growth resonate with Asian, Hispanic, and African American voters. Now the challenge and opportunity will be developing new strategies to communicate those messages. Presenting new solutions, new faces, new ways in which the GOP is seen to be relevant to the debate of ideas and in fact has ideas to share will work to restore voter confidence in our leadership.
Under my leadership, the RNC will conduct an aggressive effort to attract ethnic voters in a variety of ways including: 1. build coalitions and create a full time grassroots presence in their communities not just at election time; 2. deliver a message centered on family, traditional marriage, choice and accountability in education; share strategies for creating a stronger economy that will produce more high paying jobs; and 3. Recruit candidates for every office who reflect the demographic and ethnic makeup of the communities in which they are running.
9.On which issues do you believe the Republican Party should be most attractive to the growing number of Americans of Asian descent?
Saul Anuzis: Most Asian Americans place great importance on family, so we can certainly find common ground on issues that strengthen the family. In addition, they are culturally inclined to seek opportunity and to believe in personal responsibility. Conservative economic policies should appeal to them if they are communicated effectively.
Ken Blackwell: Freedom and opportunity. Many Asian Americans or their ancestors have lived under communist rule or near a communist country. They are acquainted with the lack of personal freedom and economic opportunity in China, Vietnam and North Korea. We must convey that we are the party of maximum freedom, including religious freedom. But in the end, I believe that all Americans, regardless of heritage, are searching for basically the same things. We just have a head start getting our message out in some sectors and need to make more progress in the others.
A disproportionately high number of Asian Americans own small businesses, yet many vote Democrat thereby harming their own interests. We must effectively relate to this community that Democrats are the party of higher taxes and unnecessary, burdensome regulation, while Republicans support and encourage their achieving the American Dream. Two things will help us do that effectively:
1. Get tough on taxes. Fight for the taxpayer by challenging every attempt by the Obama Administration to raise taxes and send a consistent and practical message to the American people explaining why such policies damage an already weak economy.
2. Send effective Asian American surrogates like Gov. Jindal and Rep. elect Cao across the country to meet with Asian American leaders and conduct a press offensive in Asian American media, via print, television and online publications.
Katon Dawson: We should be stressing to these voters our party’s principles of hard work, sacrifice, respect for religion and admiration for our military. Many Asian Americans are entrepreneurs. Others are successful professionals. To both of those groups, our message of entrepreneurship, support for personal freedom and defense of conservative values should be naturally appealing.
Mike Duncan: I believe that Republican policies are attractive to all individuals who come from a culture of hard work and personal achievement. Our belief and promotion of a culture of individual responsibility, personal freedom, strong families, and reaping the rewards of personal initiative should be attractive to people of Asian descent and other minority populations in our country. The Republican Party must always be the party that defends freedom and promotes liberty.
John “Chip” Saltsman: I firmly believe that our party’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, traditional moral values, a robust national defense and a color blind society have tremendous appeal for all racial and ethnic groups in American life. And I believe that Asian Americans value honest dialogue over narrow pandering and equal opportunity over preferences. The election last week of Anh “Joseph” Quang Cao to Congress from Louisiana is a perfect example of the kind of candidate Republicans can offer the country. Born in Saigon as the fifth of eight children, Joseph grew up in Vietnam during the most turbulent years of the Vietnamese Civil War. He remembers bombs exploding next to his elementary school. His story is the quintessential tale of the American - and Republican - spirit: an immigrant who learned English, volunteered to assist the poor, received an education, married, raised a family, and became active in his church. Attracted to Republican principles of hard work and individual freedom, Joseph was soon elected to the Republican Parish Executive Committee and the State Republican Executive Committee. In 2008, Joseph was elected as an at large delegate to the Republican National Convention and in early 2009 we can be proud to call him “Congressman.”
Michael Steele: I believe that Asian Americans are especially appreciative of our country’s freedoms and the Republicans Party’s commitment to protecting our individual liberties. Many Asian Americans have experienced dictatorships and totalitarianism. They welcome the opportunity to reap economic rewards from our capitalist system and value America’s entrepreneurial spirit. But, our mistake in the past has been believing we have to “change our message” to suit a particular group. As Chairman, my job is to deliver a consistent message on the positions of our Party as defined by the Republican platform on our commitment to life, emphasis on marriage and family, and quality educational choices for their children; wealth creation and entrepreneurism; the limited role of government in their lives and the opportunity to realize the American Dream for their families. This is the message of our Party. We all share the same concerns about our families, jobs and schools; about the safety of our neighborhoods and about the values we wish to impart to our children. I am convinced this message resonates across ethnic lines and will draw diverse communities to give us another look.
10.It appears that left-wing organizations, Democratic Party organizations, and Democrat candidates worked closely together to produce their victories in 2008.
As RNC chairman, what would you do to work more closely with the many, large, effective conservative organizations which could work more effectively with Republicans in the future?
Saul Anuzis: I have consistently participated in groups as ACU, ATR, CPAC, NRA, RTL and others. We need to not only expect their support, but also understand their needs. We cannot simply offer lip service; we must consider their members a resource and must pay attention to their concerns. It has to be a two way street.
Ken Blackwell: Within what is allowed by federal law, I would throw open the doors at the RNC to invite participation and cooperation from the dozens of like minded groups that are so successful and effective across our country. I have not seen past RNC leaders work closely with these valuable allies. I serve on the boards of directors for the National Rifle Association, the National Taxpayers Union and the Club for Growth.
Further, I will sponsor a one day retreat just outside of Washington and ask the heads of the major conservative groups to join me to discuss the future of our movement. We must have an on going conversation among policy makers, conservative think tanks, and all who operate in the political world. Opening the lines of communication again will be incredibly beneficial to our party and our movement.
Katon Dawson: Clearly, one of the keys to building a lasting Republican majority at the federal, state and local levels is uniting the various groups and organizations that believe in Republican principles of lower taxes, less regulation and government spending, individual freedom, strong national security, respect for the sanctity of life and traditional family values into a coalition for electoral success. That will be my goal as RNC chairman. The louder our voice for communicating our principles to voters, the better.
Mike Duncan: During my past two years as RNC chairman, I have done as much as I am legally able to do to work with such organizations. My belief that we should be allowed to do more is one of the main reasons I have instructed the RNC to file a legal challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. We must fight against an unconstitutional law that ties our hands in regard to working with our natural allies, and I am committed to making that principle a reality.
To the extent permissible by law, I will regularly convene working groups to promote specific grassroots advocacy on a wide range of public policy issues, including opposition to “card check” legislation and the “fairness doctrine.”
John “Chip” Saltsman: For too long, the Republican National Committee has been run from the top down, rather than empowered from the ground up. As RNC Chairman, I will work with all effective grassroots organizations that share our conservative beliefs and offer them a seat at the table and a voice within our party. I will also try to work closely with conservative leaning think tanks and scholars to help reshape GOP policy offerings. By working with congressional leaders, state officials, conservative groups, think tanks and others, I believe the new RNC Chairman can reinvigorate the party’s policy prescriptions and appeal to a greater number of voters.
Michael Steele: If we are to regain the mantle of competence and innovation we lost in recent years, we must do so by becoming the party of ideas. But that’s not enough. We must build alliances with and motivate blocks of voters and activists who share our ideas. In recent years, we haven’t done a very good job of that. McCain Feingold hurt us far more than it did the Democrats in this regard. That — and because I believe it violates important safeguards of free speech — is why I opposed McCain Feingold and will continue to do so.
Generally, there are three broad categories of organizations or groups we need to do a much better job coordinating with. 1. Those natural allied coalition groups based on specific issues that fall under the rubric of Republican principle (NRA, ATR, RTL, etc.); 2. Center Right think tank and advocacy groups which devise specific proposals on a wide array of contemporary policy concerns and/or educate and motivate public action around those proposals; and 3. Republican affiliated candidates, office holders, caucuses and organizations such as College and Young Republicans, and the NFRW.
We should work closely with these groups to help devise and promote free market, pro family ideas and initiatives. We need to be fully committed to compete for every vote, in every election, for every office, in every state.
We must also do a better job working with right of center media outlets — embracing internet based media sources in particular.
As Chairman, I will create a task force made up of members of the policy, grassroots, communications, and coalition divisions of the RNC to work with these groups and media outlets. We will find ways to create stronger connections using the highest technology and online networking as well as good old fashioned face to face collaboration.
11.Do you think it is possible to strengthen the Republican coalition we have while expanding it? If so, what specific steps should Republicans take to achieve simultaneously both of these desirable goals?
Saul Anuzis: Yes. The most critical action item is to more effectively communicate with young people. We cannot lose the 18 35 demographic by 3 to 1 and ever expect to be a majority party again. We must better understand the needs of young people; better communicate our philosophy; find leaders that speak to them effectively and use the tools that they use for communicating. As one of the younger state chairman, I have made this a priority. I have a strong relationship with the young activists in my state and believe we need to expand beyond just CRs to other college students and young professionals. I have also made it a top priority to use Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other tools that are the medium of choice for younger Americans.
Ken Blackwell: As stated earlier, we must have a clear, concise, positive and practical message that reaches the voters on a consistent basis. More specifically and in addition to that, we must better utilize targeted media and developing technology to reach various demographic groups with messages on issues that are most important to them. These opportunities increase over time as cable television, radio, the Internet, etc. provide additional targeting opportunities.
Second, I refer again to my answer above concerning the creativity of Louisiana Republican leaders in running Americans of various ethnic backgrounds in tough elections and in promoting medical doctors for major offices. All of these individuals are staunch conservatives who won difficult campaigns. We must run candidates with integrity and character that fit the district, which includes those with more diverse backgrounds and occupations and with whom people identify.
Third, in addition to trying to appeal to swing voters, we should be registering new Republicans. We can greatly expand our universe by registering conservatives who will be reliable voters for many years.
Katon Dawson: I believe for Republicans to be a majority party we must grow our party. But that should never mean compromising our principles for the sake of politics. Frankly, that’s one of the primary reasons behind our defeat at the ballot box this year. In recent years our party lost its way. We lost our core identity. We became the party of Washington instead of the party of Middle America. For example, we were once known as the party of lower taxes and less government, but recently we turned on the spigot of government spending. I believe by renewing our commitment to our core beliefs and principles — and standing by them we’ll expand our party in the process.
Mike Duncan: I believe it is not only possible, but a necessity. As a delegate for Ronald Reagan in 1976, I saw first hand how Reagan built the Party by strengthening our base while reaching out to conservative leaning independents and Democrats. I am committed to working with RNC Members to ensure that the RNC returns to the basics of the Republican Party and our conservative values. Doing so will strengthen our conservative coalition, and will also create opportunities to expand our reach as a party. Part of our focus on core conservative values must show how the American people can use those values to create solutions to the problems that they face on a day to day basis. When we use conservative values to propose solutions, we again become the “party of ideas.” The Center for Republican Renewal will be a big part of this resurgence as will the Speakers Bureau, but more important will be the participation of RNC Members in our Working Groups.
John “Chip” Saltsman: All energetic, effective political parties require strength and expansion. I believe the Republican Party is no different. We can simultaneously strengthen and grow, but only if we wholeheartedly embrace a positive, attractive, principled message that is disseminated by effective and original use of technology. We have the potential to build a diverse array of vibrant online communities by transforming our websites into hubs worthy of the fervent political dedication of our online supporters. To achieve this goal, we must link Internet users to social networks and blogs of all sizes, and we must be willing to value openness, debate and innovation as much as message control.
Michael Steele: A bold approach to how we communicate and what we communicate offers our best opportunity to strengthen and at the same time expand our existing Republican coalitions.
I’m convinced that on just about any issue today, Republicans have the answer the American people want to hear. Whether on health care, energy, jobs, education, national security, and more, we can bring our principles to bear for a solution that is not only innovative but will be viewed as a popular and effective solution that contrasts aggressively against the Democrat answer.
We must also transform the way we communicate, organize, and raise funds on behalf of our existing coalitions by leveraging technology and embracing innovation. It is possible to implement such efforts while holding true to our Republican ideals.
As Chairman, I will: 1. Work more closely with the best right of center think tanks and organizations to help identify policy solutions that will resonate with the American People; 2. Partner with Republican Governors, legislators, and members of Congress to identify innovative best practices in the states and implement them nationally; 3. Communicate more effectively and forcefully those Republican ideas fully utilizing all types of media outlets, internet communications, and candidate training vehicles, etc. 4. Work with state parties to recruit candidates on every level, then train those candidates and provide them the resources and information they need, to win elections in every community in the country; 5. Also work with state and local parties to build a grassroots movement in every city, town, and community in America.
12.Unless Republicans can match the enormously increased fundraising of the Democrats and their allied left-wing organizations, it’s difficult to see how we can begin again to win most elections.
As RNC chairman, what would you do to increase dramatically the fundraising capability of the Republican Party and the conservative organizations generally allied with it?
Saul Anuzis: This is a constant challenge that will be even harder without a sitting president and diminished legislative power. I believe we need to both increase our major donor and direct mail efforts based on various philosophical opportunities. Again, by better articulating ideas and utilizing numerous celebrity spokespersons - instead of just one - we can expand our range. Additionally, we need to identify new leaders in the post Bush era that believe in our ideas and find new ways to get them involved. We must also take full of all the technological tools that are available to us. Let’s not forget, Barack Obama used the Internet to create a “virtual ATM” and we cannot let the Democrats dominate on that front.
Ken Blackwell: The most important thing we can do to increase fundraising is to inspire our lower dollar donors again by restoring the people’s trust in the Republican Party as the principled, conservative party and drawing the sharp contrast with liberal, dangerous Democrats. Because we will not have a Republican President to assist in fundraising, it will be very difficult to dramatically increase fundraising until our base has been inspired and the trust restored.
We will continue and expand upon the direct mail system that conservatives mastered in the 1980’s and that continues to be an advantage for our party today.
Most importantly, once our base is inspired, we will implement a fundraising strategy that will motivate online conservative donors in much the same way Obama motivated liberals this year. For too long our party and the conservative movement’s web strategy has been strictly email and banner ad based. Our party’s failure to keep up with the Democrats in terms of technology is the most under discussed failure of the past 30 years. The advantages that we have held in talk radio and in direct mail have been surpassed by an exponentially stronger advantage for the Democrats in the most dominant medium of our time — the Internet. You teach at the Leadership Institute that when one party or another dominates a specific technology it is an advantage that is often insurmountable. Until we catch up with the Democrats on the web, we are at a tremendous and dangerous disadvantage.
We must immediately create an environment where our supporters go to the web to actively participate in conservative discussion, upload videos, complete important tasks, and feel like a part of our movement, party and campaigns.
We must encourage our donors to support online media organizations that will discuss information that the mainstream media refuses to cover.
We must build a tiered online donor recruitment effort and community like those proposed by Steve Forbes in the 2000 presidential campaign and implemented successfully by Obama in 2008.
I will personally call and visit our major donors and fundraisers across America to present our plan for resurgence and to personally appeal for them to become reengaged.
Katon Dawson: Republicans have been successful at attracting contributions from big donors over the years. We must continue to do so, but to compete without public financing we also have to connect with more voters and increase our small donor fundraising efforts. My Operation eGOP plan will seek to recruit 5 million new online activists with the potential to significantly increase our small donor fundraising.
Also, the McCain Feingold campaign finance law has hamstrung our Party’s ability to campaign effectively. The political party committee is playing second fiddle to independent expenditure organizations with no accountability. What did we get for the McCain Feingold campaign finance reform bargain? Barack Obama rejected public financing and raised over $600 million dollars. John McCain accepted $85 million dollars in public funding and received additional funding by the RNC, but we didn’t come close to parity with Barack Obama. Some reports indicate that John McCain was outspent by over $100 million dollars in the final month of the campaign. The RNC must actively use its legal talent to craft challenges to McCain Feingold. Working together with Republican leaders in Congress, we must make repealing McCain Feingold a priority.
Mike Duncan: I am proud of the fact that despite the legal limitations we are forced to observe, we raised more money in the past cycle than has been raised in any two year period in the RNC’s history. This was done despite the unconstitutional constraints of BCRA. Moving forward, I have proposed a fundraising plan for the RNC that will continue to leverage new media opportunities to raise funds. This fundraising proposal will double the effort to increase our online fundraising base. We made significant progress over the past two years, where online fundraising accounted for 10% of the RNC’s operating budget, but more work is needed.
As I shared earlier, I have also directed the RNC staff to file legal challenges to BCRA in Federal Court. The bottom line is that BCRA constraints limit the RNC to only being a federal party, and prevent the RNC from being a truly national party. For example, the RNC is extremely limited in the amount of fundraising coordination that can occur with allied conservative organizations. While the RNC will continue to work with conservative organizations to the extend permissible by law, a successful BCRA challenge will open the opportunity for the RNC to again become a national party and work with other organizations to maximize support for the Republican/conservative cause.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Despite the RNC’s largely successful efforts over the past two years, fundraising will be a challenge next year. The weak economy and some of our party’s outmoded methods will impact the RNC’s receipts. Indeed, Republicans are dangerously dependent on direct mail fundraising, with its high costs. The tough fundraising environment will force us to prospect more heavily, leading to larger net losses and shrinking net margins. The amounts collected from major donors will undoubtedly shrink as the economy contracts. So, as RNC Chairman, I will assemble the GOP’s top fundraisers and create a new national strategy. I will implement a “180 Day Challenge” to turn our efforts around 180. Then we will jump immediately into action. We will work to unite top party figures and set up regional fundraising events in conjunction with state parties. As a two time Pioneer, I believe that my experience fundraising will be an important asset as Chairman of our party. In this environment, experience, energy, enthusiasm and creativity all will be necessary to remain financially competitive with the Democrats.
Michael Steele: Our Party raises more money than the Democrats when we can prove to donors that their money will help candidates win and the GOP message succeed. Unfortunately, the RNC has not inspired a lot of confidence in our donors lately, and they have not felt compelled to give to what they consider to be a losing cause. We have to do a much better job of talking with not just at our donors.
I believe that tactically the future of fundraising lies in the creation of a vast army of online contributors who give small amounts multiple times. Net dollars to the RNC will increase substantially if we can convince donors who give through our direct mail programs to instead give online. And cash flow problems can be solved if we move regular donors into a small recurring commitment billed directly to their credit card or checking account each month. This, in my belief, is an important part of the way forward. Online giving is secure, cheap, instant, and effective.
As Chairman, I will fulfill and enhance my responsibilities associated with the RNC’s high dollar fundraising and giving programs I realize we can’t rely entirely on online giving. But we must fully develop our opportunity there by placing a much higher priority on it. That’s why it’s my goal to recruit at least 250,000 donors from our current list of 1.9 million to contribute to the RNC online, and at least another 100,000 donors to commit to a small, recurring monthly contribution.
13.We can expect the Obama Administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress to use their power to pour taxpayer funds into the coffers of left-wing groups which support them politically and to try to use government power to weaken or cripple conservative groups which tend to support Republicans.
As RNC chairman, would you be a leader against government funding of politically active groups and a leader in defense of legitimate conservative groups targeted for attack by President Obama and his allies who control the Congress?
Saul Anuzis: Yes.
Ken Blackwell: Unfortunately, some Republicans believe that ACORN in 2008 was the first time that government funds have been used against us in such a direct manner. However, young conservatives have been fighting groups like Ralph Nader’s Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) on campus for decades. On our college campuses today, liberals pass tax increases on students in the form of student fees that then are used to fund liberal activities. Some College Republican and Campus Leadership Program groups have successfully defeated these efforts. We must help educate conservatives to successfully fight such efforts at all levels.
Moreover, it is absolutely the job of the RNC Chairman to stand up against the use of public funds for liberal political purposes, and I will lead in taking on these efforts with a vigor similar to that which has been so admirably shown by Tom Coburn, Mark Sanford, and Jeff Flake on the issue of earmarks.
Katon Dawson: Yes.
Mike Duncan: Absolutely. In 2008, the RNC was the leading voice against government funding of ACORN, and exposed it for the politically motivated organization that it is. We worked closely with Republican Leadership in the House and Senate to highlight ACORN funding in any legislation moving through the Congress. Our scrutiny prevented ACORN from reaping any benefits of the housing bail out, and will aggressively fight similar battles every time it is necessary to do so.
In addition, we will not stand by should Democrats unfairly target conservative groups with legislation. We know that Democrats and their liberal allies intend to introduce the so called “fairness doctrine” as a blatant attack on conservative talk radio. As Chairman, I will work with House and Senate Republican Leadership to ensure that this and other attacks on legitimate conservative organizations will not be tolerated.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Unchallenged, liberals in the federal government - led by the troika of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi - will target legitimate conservative organizations while freely funding groups like ACORN and its systematic voter fraud. As RNC Chairman, I will fight them every step of the way. I will also work to end the travesty of McCain Feingold “campaign finance reform,” which compounds the problem of money in politics, hampers our party’s ability to effectively function, and unconstitutionally abridges the First Amendment’s guarantee of free political speech.
Michael Steele: The Democrats can indeed be expected to use the levers of government and government funding to support their various political allies from labor unions to community activist organizations, from radical environmentalists to left wing social issue organizations and everything in between.
The RNC must serve as a watchdog against such government sponsorship and a defender of conservative groups the leftists will inevitably target for extinction. It is the role of our Chairman to actively speak out against these unfair and unethical practices in every instance.
14.Exit polls show that students and other young voters voted about two to one for Barak Obama. In part this was because leftist groups and Democrats spent huge sums of money identifying and organizing college students in 2008.
Many studies have shown that, when young people start off in politics with a political party, they tend to favor that party for the rest of their lives.
Years ago, for legal reasons, the RNC stopped providing direct financial assistance to the College Republicans, and very few Republican campaigns invest in mass-based youth efforts.
Yet decades of experience show that large numbers of college students can be identified, organized, and activated in Republican campaigns where someone talented and skilled is provided the resources to do so.
As RNC chairman, what would you do to make sure College Republican field work is generously funded and to make sure that future Republican campaigns devote the time, talent, and money necessary to recruit large numbers of college students into Republican activity?
Saul Anuzis: I have consistently encouraged both College Republican and Teenage Republicans in the process. We have organized campaign school, assisted in bringing students to CPAC, etc. I believe expanding our ranks among young voters needs to be a top priority. However, this work cannot be left only to the College Republicans. Every program in our party needs to look for ways to reach out to young people. If we are going to be the party of the future, everyone needs to make young people a priority.
Ken Blackwell: College Republicans is the most important recruitment organization of new people into our party and volunteers for our candidates. It is true that people who commit to a political party while in college are likely to stay with that party throughout their life. It is a terrible shame that the College Republicans are no longer working in coordination with our party and our candidates because of their legal structure. I would work within the law to change that immediately.
I would encourage the College Republican National Committee to re organize itself either as a party organization or a political action committee with the FEC or in a state with favorable political organization laws. Just as Mitt Romney successfully utilized State PAC’s in his efforts to help elect Republicans in 2006, the CRNC could similarly organize itself as a state or federal level political or party committee. This would allow the Republican National Committee and Republican candidates to once again coordinate their activities with the national and local College Republican organizations.
Once they are re organized in a manner that satisfies all legal requirements, I would implement full funding for a national field program of well trained College Republicans to storm campuses in all 50 states. They would implement a national field recruitment program in the fall and an aggressive training program in the spring for young conservatives. I would not micro manage this program, but I would make it clear that significant RNC funding would be immediately available for such a program.
Katon Dawson: We cannot limit our ramped up outreach to minorities alone. In order for our party to thrive in the future, we need to court young voters. In addition to persuading donors to generously fund College Republican programs on promising campuses, we need to revamp our outreach to mesh with the online networking systems that are integral parts of how younger Americans interact. Once campaigns see the demonstrated effectiveness of such an online system a system that Democrats have down to a science, making it easy for young people to be active in the party campaigns will devote the necessary time, energy and money into recruiting the youth vote. The RNC needs a robust and open social network that allows young Republicans, as well as other activists, to network and share ideas to make them more effective advocates for our party. The network should allow activists and users to create their own applications to improve and expand the network. Regional eCampaign Directors will be responsible for the growth of the network and coordinating the social network with large scale RNC projects, such as voter registration, early/absentee voting, fundraising, candidate recruitment/vetting and driving home RNC message/communications initiatives.
Mike Duncan: As you note in your question, the legal constraints of BCRA prevent the RNC from coordinating with or funding College Republicans, as CRs are a 527 organization. The constraints are so egregious that the RNC cannot even provide any direction to CRs about strategy, fundraising, and outreach efforts. Our successful challenge to BCRA will allow the RNC to again provide the leadership and guidance to CRs, Young Republicans and other organizations that can maximize the youth vote for Republican candidates.
As Chairman, I have visited many college campuses and met with CR chapters across the country and I will continue to do so. I am committed to opening our training colleges at the RNC to CRs and other qualified college students. Finally, we will continue to work with CRs and organizations such as the Leadership Institute to recruit political field staff for campaigns.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Young and college aged Republicans aren’t the future of our party… they are the very heart and soul of the present party - and they must become an increasingly integral part of every Republican campaign from city council to the presidency. As RNC Chairman, I will devote substantial time and energy to engage these young activists, particularly through the development of vibrant, open and exciting online communities. But Republicans misjudge 2008 if we simply chalk up Democrat successes to money and technology. Democrats motivated young people by offering a positive, youthful, attractive candidate and a coherent message. Let’s not forget that in 1984, Ronald Reagan won 18 24 year old voters by a margin of 61 39 and 25 29 year old voters by 14 percentage points. Without a message and the candidates to deliver that message, Republicans will continue to trail Democrats in appealing to younger voters among others.
Michael Steele: The College Republican National Committee is a vast and un tapped resource. Sadly, they are used for Volunteer Deployment and not much more. This must change. Not only are CR’s the future of our party, they are the current foot soldiers and leaders of our Party and we must keep them mobilized and engaged.
I’m committed to reviving the youth efforts that helped to elect Ronald Reagan. Because the CRNC exists as a 527 political organization, current law constrains the RNC’s ability to fund them directly. Nevertheless, I will do everything I can within the parameters of the law to keep them engaged, well trained, and well funded. The College Republicans were my biggest grassroots asset as County Chairman, State Chairman and certainly in my campaigns for Lt. Governor and the U.S. Senate. I have had the privilege of addressing CR groups across the Country and have been so proud of the contributions they continue to give. They effectively raise money, actively recruit members on campuses all across our Country and provide local volunteers for party building and winning campaigns — a gift that will keep on giving for the future success of our party.
One of my first actions as Prince George’s County Chairman, was to contact the CR chapter at University of Maryland so that I could get them involved in Party activities and get their input and support. I will lead by example in visiting college campuses, including historically black colleges, and urging state and local Republican leaders to do likewise. We will provide funding for state party efforts, including staff, aimed at enhancing student recruitment and integrating student volunteers into Republican campaigns up and down the ticket.
We will: 1. Create online opportunities for social networking among college campuses; 2. Provide funding for state party efforts, including staff, aimed at student recruitment; 3. Work hard to integrate student volunteers and other young people into Republican campaigns up and down the ticket; and, 4. Make college campuses and other youth oriented venues hotbeds for volunteer recruitment, professional campaign training messaging.
15.In addition to vigorously expanding the Republican presence on college campuses, what must be done to give the Republican Party credibility with young people as a desirable alternative to Obama and the Democratic Congress? How would you build us as a party to which young people can relate personally?
Saul Anuzis: Much of this will depend on our national candidates and leaders. We can build a base of supporters based on philosophy, but attracting a “movement” will often be based around a candidate. That said we must do more on college campuses to fight for conservative ideas. This means challenging liberal professors, supporting our youth organizations when they stand up against liberal thinking, and speaking to young people where they live: on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. We must showcase our ideas in these forums. I also will implement a 60 under 40 program every year that allows each state and territory to send at least one person under 40 to Washington for leadership, fundraising and communication training in the hopes of creating a “farm team” of leaders all across the country that can step up and lead our party down the road.
Ken Blackwell: We must stand for something in order to successfully recruit college students into our party. We need to re establish our brand and reach out in ways that appeal to young people. We can do that by drawing sharp contrasts with the failures of liberalism while presenting a message of hope and optimism to those that are open to a conservative message.
* With Barack Obama as President we can make a strong argument on college campuses that racial preferences are wrong. We can win that argument in the hearts and minds of students who are at least minimally open to a conservative message. I would implement a national debate over preferences and have it begin with conservatives on college campuses.
* I would take a strong public stand against increased government spending and make it clear to young people that the politicians in Washington DC are mortgaging their future.
Katon Dawson: I don’t believe the core values of the Republican Party are age specific. Our Party’s principles of self reliance, hard work, personal freedom and traditional family values can certainly resonate among young Americans today.
The problem isn’t that they don’t know what we stand for. The problem is that they aren’t hearing our message. We must return to these core values, and we must use the modern social networking tools that exist today to communicate those values to them. My Operation eGOP campaign intends to do just that.
Mike Duncan: First, the Center for Republican Renewal will include a major outreach to young voters, making sure that they feel invested in our “party of ideas.” The Republican Party will be the Party that represents their best vehicle for success, and not just the party of “no.”
Second, we need to identify and recruit the best and the brightest young conservative people in the world of politics, government and even entertainment to carry our message to a new generation. This recruitment will come from RNC Members and from the RNC Speakers Bureau.
Third, we must leverage new media forms of communication to reach younger voters, engaging them online and with mobile devices.
Fourth, I am proposing a series of youth conferences across the country. These three day events will be opportunities for young people to learn more about the Republican Party and how they can be involved at the local level as candidates or campaign volunteers. These will also be opportunities to brainstorm and learn more about the issues and values drive voting preferences in younger generations.
John “Chip” Saltsman: At the age of thirty, when I was elected Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, I was the youngest state chair in the nation. I moved our party headquarters next to Vanderbilt University in Nashville and built an impressive youth movement within our state organization. At one of our debate watching parties in 2000, an older party activist came up to me and told me in a distressed tone of voice: “Chip, I don’t know anyone here.” I replied, “That’s the point.” Today, at the age of forty, I believe that I can bring a new generation of young and energetic leadership to the forefront of our party.
Michael Steele: The liberal tilt of America’s college campuses has put the GOP and conservatives in general at a significant disadvantage. Couple that with the “rock star status” of a candidate like Barack Obama who effectively harnessed technology, rhetoric, and pop culture and you can see why the GOP fails miserably with young people.
But, new leadership creates new ways to connect to this generation of voters. Recruit better, engage more quickly and effectively, and provide young people with the confidence and the tools necessary for ideological victories on campus and political victories on campaigns.
One way we can regain credibility is to break down the negative stereotypes. We must demonstrate that we’re not a party for the white, rich and the powerful. We must hold up the GOP mirror and let them see message of our party reflected in their lives. I just don’t want to take a page from the Democrats’ playbook, I want to improve on the use of pop culture, music, and technology to adapt and create a party that young people want to join.
16.Although restored fidelity to old messages will certainly be required to grow the Republican Party again, new messages are also essential. What new messages would you communicate as RNC chairman?
Saul Anuzis: It’s not enough to be the Grand Old Party but we need to also be the Grand “Opportunity” Party that leads us into the 21st century with innovative solutions based on our conservative principles.
Ken Blackwell: Principles do not change; however, our message must be fresh and put it in the context of the day. Primarily, I would bring to the American people the message that Republicans stand for something, then articulate how our principles in public policy make a difference in their lives.
Republicans faced an almost identical situation in 1993. We lost the presidency to a young candidate with the ability to appeal to younger voters based on “hope”. We need a new message in 2010, similar to the Contract with America, that shows the American people that we, as a party, stand for positive and practical solutions to our nation’s challenges. It is difficult to determine today what specific issues will be utilized in our message, but it will be crystal clear to the American people in 2010 where Republicans stand and what we will do if they elect our party to majorities in Congress.
Katon Dawson: I completely agree that fidelity to our core conservative principles is required to grow our Party. But to be a lasting majority Party our challenge is finding innovative ways of applying our conservative principles to the current challenges and opportunities of American life. Republicans need to put a human face on the problems Americans face today. We must address kitchen table issues faced by Americans today and, just as President Reagan did so successfully more than 20 years ago, we must adapt our conservative principles to the challenges of today, be it fighting terrorism, providing good paying jobs for workers and opportunities for entrepreneurs, or helping families access health care and good schools for their children. Our conservative principles are timeless — applying them to our current challenges is what we must now do.
Mike Duncan: As RNC Chairman, I will rely on fundamental conservative principles of less government and lower taxes to communicate new solutions for the challenges that we face as a country. Our Center for Republican Renewal will be the engine for using the conservative principles to transform the Republican Party platform into specific policy ideas to address the concerns of Americans across the country. We will also leverage technology to deliver our ideas and messages via new media outlets to reach a broader audience across generations.
John “Chip” Saltsman: As Republicans and as conservatives, we cannot afford to cede a single issue to the Democrats. Yet, on a range of issues from environmental protection to the rising cost of health care, our party has struggled to win voter confidence. Republicans seem to be better at explaining what we are against than building a coalition in support of a positive agenda. We oppose government dominated health care, but have we articulated a market based, patient centered alternative? We’re against massive new taxes to fund a global warming slush fund, but have we offered Americans a conservative set of principles which would best enhance our environment? As RNC Chairman, I directly challenge the liberalism of a Democrat run federal government and promote real conservative solutions that Americans will trust.
Michael Steele: First Message: We are the Conservative Party. Traditional Republican principles provide a popular perspective for policy engagement.
For example, I coined the phrase “Drill, baby drill” at the RNC convention in 2008, not as the entire solution to our energy problem but to get people listening to a clear example of how Republicans should be distinguished from Democrats on one important aspect of the energy issue
But energy is only one example. On any issue healthcare, education, infrastructure improvement, economic growth and new job creation, small business growth, urban development and renewal, tax fairness and simplification, and every other issue Republicans can beat Democrats simply by articulating innovative policy proposals based on time tested, free market, pro family Republican principals.
Under my leadership, the RNC will conduct a strategic initiative designed to identify the audiences that will join our Republican coalition, the messages based on Republican ideals that will motivate them to do so, and then develop the tactical methods for successfully communicating those messages to identified audiences in a manner that resonates with them.
17.New faces will be an important factor if Republicans are to become the majority party again.
Should the recruitment of U.S. House and Senate candidates be entirely in the hands of the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee? What should be the role of the RNC in recruitment of candidates at the congressional, state, and local levels? And how much money should the RNC invest in the next two years in candidate recruitment?
Saul Anuzis: No. The RNC should also be involved in a team effort. The RNC needs to tap into our network of leaders in the states to help identify these candidates, and we must do a better job building a farm team. My 60 under 40 program will do just that. The issue is not “can we afford to recruit good candidates”. The question is “can we afford not to”. It would be foolish to put a dollar figure on this effort today without knowing more about how effectively we can work with the NRCC and NRSC, but I will tell you that I view candidate recruitment as absolutely critical to everything else we do.
Ken Blackwell: I believe that it is time for the RNC to become much more involved in identifying potential Republican candidates for US Senate and House. The RNC certainly will not support one candidate over another in a primary without a signed Rule 11 waiver, but we must no longer relinquish control of federal candidate identification solely to the NRSC and NRCC. Additionally, we should recruit candidates who support the platform adopted by the Republican National Convention.
Katon Dawson: The next RNC chairman must place a renewed focus on candidate recruitment. To succeed at the voting booth we must field a candidate in all 435 congressional districts, and get as many Republicans on state and local ballots as possible in all 3141 counties of America. We must encourage individuals outside of politics to seek office. We should rely on the advice of our state and local parties to recommend viable candidates not strictly the advice of consultants and other entrenched interests in Washington, DC and we must always ensure we give them the tools to win, especially adequate training and funding.
Mike Duncan: As Chairman, I will call on all RNC Members to be active in seeking out and recruiting the best Republican candidates at the local, state, and Federal level. We will invest resources via the Partnership 2010 initiative, providing a dedicated, paid staff member will be in every state who will focus on candidate recruitment. Particularly when it comes to recruiting new candidates for US House and Senate seats, all Republican and conservative organizations need to be involved to support the efforts of the NRCC and NRSC.
John “Chip” Saltsman: During the early years of the Bush Administration, the White House played an active role helping to recruit top flight candidates for Congress. When I was at the NRSC in 2001 02, the White House assisted Senator Bill Frist in urging candidates like John Thune, Norm Coleman and Elizabeth Dole to run for Senate. In lieu of the White House, the Republican National Committee must actively assist the NRSC and NRCC as they identify and pursue the best, most qualified candidates. The RNC must also work with the Republican Governors Association to ensure top gubernatorial candidates are leading their respective statewide ballots in 2010. But, as RNC Chairman, I will also endeavor to bring state party officials into the recruiting process. In many instances, local leaders are the best depository of political intelligence. They have first hand knowledge of candidates, having observed them closely for years. They see local private sector leaders who may be strong candidates. Republicans in all fifty states must be ready to seize every opportunity to elect officials at all levels of government. To fully succeed, candidate recruitment should be a collaborative effort between national party leaders, congressional officials and state party officials.
Michael Steele: There is too much talent within the RNC membership to leave candidate recruitment solely to the campaign committees. We need to work together to get the best candidates into the race. After all, state and local parties know their local players and dynamics better than Washington DC. This can set the stage for expanding the playing field with more competitive races as the overall environment changes.
18.No candidate is ever perfect, but what five or six factors do you think are most important in evaluating a potential Republican candidate?
1) qualifications2) philosophy3) financial capabilities4) image5) ability to articulate our principles effectively
Ken Blackwell: The most important factor in evaluating a potential Republican candidate is whether he/she has integrity and agrees with our philosophy of limited government, traditional values and a strong defense. If someone doesn’t agree with the Republican philosophy of government, it hardly matters whether or not they make a good candidate on other levels.
Once we are assured that they agree with our party philosophically, we should evaluate important factors such as their ability to appeal to voters for the office for which they are running, their ability to raise the resources necessary to be competitive, their ability to represent our party admirably on the national stage, and importantly, whether they are free from the corruption that plagued our party in recent years. Work ethic, loyalty, competence and intelligence are certainly important, too.
Katon Dawson: As a party I believe we must remain committed to our core conservative principles: less government spending, lower taxes, personal freedom, strong national security, respect for the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and the importance of family.
That said, believe we can also follow the advice of Ronald Reagan, who as governor gave a partisan speech to the California Republican Assembly at the Lafayette Hotel in Long Beach on April 1, 1967. He said, in part:
“The Republican Party, both in this state and nationally, is a broad party. There is room in our tent for many views; indeed, the divergence of views is one of our strengths. Let no one, however, interpret this to mean compromise of basic philosophy or that we will be all things to all people for political expediency.”
Mike Duncan: Two important factors that I always consider are: (1) can the candidate articulate core conservative principles when describing why the candidate is running for office; and, (2) does the candidate have the core support of family and friends.The level of support from conservative organizations and alliances, the ability to communicate a conservative message to a broad audience, the ability to gather necessary resources, and the understanding of the scope of the campaign necessary for victory are several other critical factors to consider.
John “Chip” Saltsman: The strongest Republican candidates have a true moral compass; genuine dedication to conservative ideals; effective communication skills; the ability to lead and inspire; intellectual curiosity and policy interest; and grassroots party experience. I believe that political hopefuls with these characteristics will be able to raise money, build a campaign organization and develop a coherent strategy. Should I be fortunate enough to serve as RNC Chairman, I will search out individuals with these qualities and those candidates will expand the party and restore our national governing majority.
Michael Steele: As a Republican County Chairman, Republican State Chairman and winning candidate for Lt Governor in the very blue state of Maryland, I found the most important factors involved with a strong, competitive candidate to include:
A. Strong commitment to Republican principlesB. Understanding of community values and issuesC. Ability to articulate motivational, contrasting messages concisely.D. Ability to attract appropriate talent and resources.E. Relevant experience.F. Ability to inspire and motivate volunteers and grassroots.G. Fire in the belly.
19.Meetings of the RNC are usually scripted so that virtually every word spoken is prepared in advance and every vote unanimous. Rarely is any serious matter put before the committee and debated openly.
What would you do as national chairman to open up meetings of the RNC and allow RNC members to debate meaningful issues and actually decide some policies of the RNC?
Saul Anuzis: This has been part of my platform. I will have far more time for RNC members to interact with one another, without media or outsiders present all the time. This will allow for an open exchange of ideas, and I believe, a stronger committee. I also believe strongly in establishing opportunities for sharing of best practices.
Ken Blackwell: Our Republican platform adopted by thousands of delegates should form the basis of our political policy. However, I will encourage the proposal and adoption of resolutions regarding the major issues of the day at RNC meetings allowing debate among members. I will also ensure that involvement of the Counsel’s Office is limited to its appropriate role of giving legal advice. And I will make every effort to ensure that each member of the RNC feels free to disagree with me without fear of reprisal.
Katon Dawson: Debate is healthy and I have welcomed it as the State Executive Committee meetings in South Carolina. I have never felt that the meetings of the RNC were closed or that debate was limited. We’ve had serious debates about a number of resolutions and the most important issues facing the country as well as the recent changes to the RNC Rules. As a State Chairman, I have always included members of the State Executive Committee on big decisions to gain consensus as a Party, and would do so as RNC Chairman.
Mike Duncan: As I announced to RNC Members on Saturday, December 13, my vision for the future of our Party is for the RNC to return to being a Member driven Committee. I am proposing a series of working groups, which will be chaired by Members, to focus on the specific challenges that we are facing as a Party. These working groups will develop ideas, strategies for implementing those ideas, and will review progress to ensure that the ideas have been executed.
I am very proud of the contributions made by my fellow RNC Members who served on Republican Convention Committees. I witnessed Members engaged in serious debates over policies that will have long term effects for our Party.
As to actual RNC Meetings, I believe there is a fine line when conducting a full meeting of the RNC that is well planned and organized, which is what I believe is desirable, and one which is perceived as overly programmed with preordained results. As a presiding officer, I understand and encourage Members to fully express their views while respecting the will of the governing body.
As you know, much of the work and decision making process of the RNC is conducted in all the various RNC Committees. For example, our Rules Committee works for four years reviewing each rule to present to the full Committee. Our work on the question of whether to change our Primary Election system has been a completely open process, resulting in a very healthy and vigorous discussion. I am committed that the RNC must return to being a Member driven Committee, because active participation by Members is crucial to our success.
John “Chip” Saltsman: I believe that the members of the Republican National Committee are the board of directors for our party and should be treated as such. Open dialogue at every meeting is essential, if we are to learn from our successes and our failures on the local, state, and national levels. By focusing on the crucial, substantive issues facing our country and by using RNC meetings to inform rather than rehash, we can better enable the membership of the RNC to serve as top level surrogates for our message and our agenda. But as Chairman, I would not wait until committee meetings to seek out the advice of RNC members. I am open to any idea that would foster greater communication between the national party and the states, including scheduled conference calls, an internal blog or an online dashboard for RNC members.
Michael Steele: I am big on input. I want to hear what people think. No scripts. I’d also like to see more member only meetings (no staff) in which we enjoy a candid discussion of the various issues confronting our Party everything from strategy and messaging to structure and organization.
QUESTIONS RELATING TO CONSULTANTS
20.There are natural conflicts of interest between consultants and their clients.
For the RNC, what counts in the long run is the net money raised; for a fundraising consultant firm, what counts most is the number of prospect letters mailed.
Fundraising firms make much more money from prospect mailings than they do from cultivating their clients’ existing donors. Therefore such firms don’t give their highest quality attention to cultivating the client’s housefile.
In fact, communications to RNC donors bang away at them in an effort to squeeze every last possible dollar from them.
What is seen is that some more money comes in. An RNC chairman should clearly understand that what is not seen is the large number of RNC donors who are turned off and resolve never to give to the RNC again.
What would you do as RNC chairman to treat RNC donors better and not turn them away from future giving by pressuring them so hard that they never want to give again?
Saul Anuzis: This has not been a major issue that Michigan donors have complained about. However, as a candidate I am seeking input from donors to better respond to their concerns. I believe that happy donors are more likely to give again, so I will always treat donors with dignity and respect and show gratitude for their contributions.
Ken Blackwell: From what you’re describing and what I’ve heard from Republican donors, there appears to be a problem. However, it would be most prudent to look at the RNC’s various programs and firms and evaluate them individually before substantially commenting. I certainly would use common sense when reviewing this matter. Most importantly, we must treat our donors in a professional and courteous manner. Irritating donors accomplishes nothing. Once someone makes a contribution, we should treat that person as an investor in our party, showing individual respect so that they do not feel that they are simply part of a big list but part of our team. I would also consider compensating vendors on a different basis in order to remove the incentive for them to abuse the situation.
Katon Dawson: I rebuilt the Republican Party in South Carolina from the bottom up, with an effective, robust yet genteel fundraising effort that has brought donors into the fold. We must localize, organize and mobilize our party’s support by reassuring donors that their contribution brings our party closer to regaining the majority — that is the only truly effective way to get folks to open their wallets and want to keep on giving. Our party must restore hope to everyday Americans by clearly communicating the practical applications of modern conservatism to the realities they face. As RNC Chairman, I will make sure that RNC donors understand the role they play in providing for a brighter future of the Republican Party.
Mike Duncan: Fundraising is one of the most difficult challenges we face, and I am proud of the success we have had in the past two years despite a difficult political environment. I am also proud of the financial stewardship of the RNC over the past two years and I believe that ever donor’s dollar has been carefully allocated to provide the maximum benefit. Finally, I am proud of the Code of Ethics that the RNC follows with regard to the use of consultants and our insistence that all conflicts of interests be immediately disclosed.
As we enter a new era without the White House, this a perfect time for the RNC to re evaluate all of our fundraising strategies. For example, we already know that our online fundraising will eclipse traditional telemarketing, and the RNCs 2009 fundraising plan reallocates resources accordingly. This opportunity to evaluate our fundraising tactics is why I have called for a Fundraising Working Group of RNC Members. This Working Group can examine each fundraising appeal and make recommendations for changes moving forward. As with all the Working Groups, this group’s decisions will be transparent to all RNC Members.
Finally, I believe that donors are less upset about being asked for money, as much as they may be upset that Republicans seem to have drifted from their core conservative principles. The actions of our officeholders have not always matched up with their conservative campaign promises, and that impacts Republican fundraising at all levels.
John “Chip” Saltsman: As RNC Chairman, I know that we can treat our donors better not necessarily by asking less, but by asking smarter. More precise targeting can enable delivery of the best message through the ideal medium. For example, an emphasis on peer to peer fundraising can turn repetition from a negative into a positive. The tenth paid phone call can drive a donor to distraction, but an email from a personal friend might make a difference. Indeed, internet fundraising will be the best place to make progress in the coming years. We should initiate a phone program in every committee and have callers mine existing direct mail donors. Let’s ask them to switch communication from mail and phones to the internet. Donors who agree should be removed from mail and phone solicitations. By converting the direct mail file to internet donors, the party will begin to see a higher net on return with decreased overhead costs and a decrease in frustration for our valuable donor base.
Michael Steele: The manner in which the Republican National Committee raises money has become static. We need a new approach that engages our existing donors and expands our donor base utilizing a more cost efficient method by using the latest technology and tools.
Rather than barraging our donors with solicitation after solicitation that says little more than “Send Us Your Money” we need to establish a dialogue. We must keep them engaged by keeping them informed; but we must also take the time to listen to them. Some of my greatest success as a candidate or Chairman of GOPAC has come after I’ve spent time just listening to the concerns and ideas of donors. They see themselves as more than just a “check writer”. We should too. We need to have a regular and ongoing conversation with updates on activities the RNC is focusing on, solicit their ideas and get their input on how we can serve them, the grassroots, and the local and state parties better, and reward them for the invaluable service they provide for our Party.
21.Some political consultants deliberately warp the budgets of campaigns to spend as much as possible on commissionable advertising.
They completely or overwhelmingly neglect non-commissionable campaign expenditures on such ground-game activities as voter ID, voter registration, precinct organization, election-day turn out, youth efforts and other non-commissionable activity such as use of the new electronic technology.
What would you as RNC chairman do to warn candidates and party committees against employing such consultants?
Saul Anuzis: I simply will not tolerate staff or vendors that are disrespectful to our party leadership or finance leadership. Again, this has not been a problem I have confronted, however, I will show leadership on this front if faced with this challenge.
Ken Blackwell: This is near and dear to my heart. One of the primary reasons that I am running is to return us to a 50 state strategy that invests heavily in the ground game (I refer again to previous answers) and spends a smaller percentage of the budget on television advertising. The divergence of media is making television ads less and less effective, and face to face communication via a good ground game has always been more effective. The Democrats appear to have learned what we as a party have forgotten.
I agree with you that some consultants have taken advantage of our party. Specifically:
* Some national consultants and the staffers who are loyal to them misuse the microtargeting product they sell. Microtargeting is a useful tool for some purposes such as identifying potential voters in Democrat areas to attempt to persuade them using mail. That said, microtargeting consultants and the RNC have essentially forced states to utilize this information for voter identification and voter turnout. This has turned out as many or more Democrat voters than Republican voters when the models are wrong or based on outdated information. It is not acceptable to use microtargeting at the expense of a REAL voter identification program on the phones and at the doors. We must return to the ‘blocking and tackling’ of precinct organization and voter identification rather than take the easy way out with a flawed GOTV program based solely on microtargeting. I believe this hurt us in both the 2006 and 2008 elections.
* It appears that decisions at the RNC are essentially made in concert with the Chairman’s office, Counsel’s office, and their preferred consultants. Although there is nothing inappropriate about this type of decision making, it leads to a potential conflict of interest between the consultants and the party and its candidates. I will not rely on commissioned DC based consultants but will work closely with a team of deputy chairmen who come from the ranks of the RNC membership to determine our strategies. We have current state chairmen and RNC members who know as much, or more, about what our party should do strategically than many DC based consultants. Simply put, I will find the next Haley Barbours and put them to work.
* Our primary investment must be in implementing a 50 state strategy, and we must concentrate on building strong state and local parties In the near future, RNC resources will be allocated predominantly to re building our party from the ground up rather than allocating television dollars in a broad shot gun approach. The NRCC and the NRSC are going to have to largely raise their own money for television for specific candidates.
Katon Dawson: As RNC Chairman, my office will always be open to candidates who seek advice. I have never been a political consultant and I have no intention of ever becoming one. That being said, ultimately the buck stops with the candidate, and if they choose to spend their money on consultants, that is their choice. But I do not believe it is the role of the RNC Chairman to micro manage campaigns.
Mike Duncan: Part of the challenge to embracing new communications technologies is that it requires a new model of political campaign budgeting that reduces consultant commissions for traditional media. As Chairman, I have and will continue to direct my political team to always give Parties and candidates honest evaluations about the performance of political consultants. However, the choice to contract with one consultant or another is ultimately up to the contracting party. In addition, to address the need for an increased focus on ground game activities, my Partnership 2010 initiative will provide a paid staff member in each state that will focus on developing Victory plans, voter registration, and candidate recruitment. The RNC will also expand our in house Victory and campaign management training programs so that every attendee will be aware of what to look for in hiring political consultants. It is my personal practice and recommendation to, when asked, provide multiple successful vendors for Parties and candidates to consider.
I also recommend that State Parties employ a similar Code of Ethics that we have instituted at the RNC. We insist that contracts be competitively bid and that all potential bidders must disclose any conflicts of interest.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Political consultants who win gain clients; those who lose face trouble. As Republicans and conservatives, we should allow the marketplace to decide which political consultants are hired and which are not. However, the national party can have a role in disseminating political consultant scorecards compiled by independent publications. I can assure you that, as Chairman, I will make sure that any consultant retained by the RNC provides the party with the highest level of service for the best price. I am running to rebuild the party, not to make friends within the consultant class.
Michael Steele: I am a grassroots guy. We need to lead by example. The RNC resources need to be directed to the Grassroots not to consultants. And our candidate schools agenda should reflect this approach to campaigns and consultants.
Unless a consultant has engaged in clearly unethical, illegal, or egregiously unprofessional behavior it is not my role to dictate to candidates which consultant they should or should not use or attempt in any way to influence their staffing decisions. Although I agree with the premise of the question and would speak out against the practice I will not to try to instruct candidates on which consultants to use.
Most political consultants need to learn the power of precinct, coalitions, and grassroots work. Under my leadership, we will establish a program to ensure they do.
22.Political consultants often are the only ones who make big bucks in politics. They can be identified in three different categories.
Some work only for conservative Republican candidates. Others work for any Republican candidate who will pay them, regardless of that candidate’s philosophy. Others work for any candidate who will pay them, regardless of party.
What would you do as RNC chairman to make sure that Republican candidates would know in advance which of these three categories a consultant fits into?
Saul Anuzis: I would feel very comfortable making candidates aware of vendors that mistreat donors or party leaders. I have taken a strong stand in Michigan against vendors that are dishonest, disrespectful or abusive of their influence.
Ken Blackwell: I will ask each consultant to send me a list of all candidates for whom they have worked during the past five years, along with the party affiliation of each candidate. I will make that list available to RNC members and candidates upon request. I would love to get RNC members’ ideas on this as well.
Katon Dawson: For too long the doors of the party committees in Washington have been closed to many good, honorable and hard working Republican vendors. As RNC Chairman, I will institute more competitive bidding for projects that cannot be completed in house. As RNC Chairman, RNC employees would be prohibited from having any outside income or interest in consulting firms.
Mike Duncan: As I indicated above, I have and will continue to direct my political team to always give Parties and candidates honest evaluations about the performance of political consultants. Again, it is my personal practice and recommendation to provide multiple successful vendors for Parties and candidates to consider.
John “Chip” Saltsman: (for 22./23.) As stated above, I believe the political marketplace should be where consultant hiring and firing takes place. I will readily make a listing available to potential candidates of political consultants and their clients. This disclosure will allow candidates to choose their own consultants based on their electoral success and previous clients. If a candidate wants to hire a consultant who mainly works for conservatives or for moderates or in a specific region - the choice will be their own. As Chairman, I would ensure that candidates and state parties have the RNC’s advice and counsel regarding consultants at their disposal. However, I do not believe they should be forced to seek the committee’s approval or disapproval. The RNC’s mission is to empower candidates and state parties - not micromanage their day to day operations.
Michael Steele: As Chairman, the RNC will not attempt to force or convince any state party or candidate to use any particular vendor or consultant. If asked for advice or guidance I will relay my experience with individual vendors or consultants, but only if asked.
23.National Republican staff compile lists of acceptable consultants and suppliers to recommend to candidates who seek money and other help from the RNC and other national Republican committees.
Sometimes candidates and state parties are told that they must hire those favored consultants, their associates, and other specific suppliers or they will get little or no help from the RNC.
Will the RNC under your chairmanship compile a list of favored consultants and suppliers and pressure candidates and state parties to hire them?
Saul Anuzis: Absolutely not.
Ken Blackwell: Based on discussions with many RNC members, this appears to have become quite problematic. Simply put, I would not force candidates to choose from a list of favored consultants in order to receive money. However, it is important to be able to recommend good consultants when asked. One possible solution may be block grants to state parties. Again, this is an area in which I want to work with RNC members to find the best solution.
Katon Dawson: RNC staff does and should have lists of acceptable consultants and suppliers. That said, usually state parties have a better idea of which consultants play better on the ground in their areas than does Washington. We should not hamstring our state parties and candidates to hire an approved person to help our candidates win we should ultimately allow them to hire the best person to help our candidates win.
Mike Duncan: No, this has never been my personal policy or recommended way of doing business. Please be assured that not only as Chairman, but on a personal level, I share your concerns on this subject. I take the RNC Code of Ethics very seriously and I expect all RNC employees to do the same. I have asked that RNC Members to bring any concerns immediately to my attention.
In providing honest evaluations, the RNC political team will provide candid assessments as to whether the consultant understands how to be a part of a Republican team and whether the consultant is engaged in other campaign related activities that would allow the consultant to profit by self dealing. As indicated above, I strongly recommend providing multiple options for Parties and candidates to consider.
Michael Steele: As Chairman, I will make certain that the RNC does not operate under a political consulting patronage program. The RNC will not tell state parties what vendors to use. However, I do see the efficacy of creating a list of vendors for the members who have been RNC certified — they have been through our training programs, understand the messaging we want delivered and are prepared to assist the party and campaigns at all levels. This does not mean, however, that a state party or campaign HAS to use vendors on such a list “or else” (no money, no support). It does mean the vendors are available should you need one especially if you don’t know any vendors. I would reserve the right, also, to suggest state parties avoid vendors who have proven themselves guilty of egregious unethical, behavior.
24.Local and state Republican Party leaders are often upset at RNC fundraising letters which imply that the way to contribute to the local or state party is to write a check to the RNC.
Computer insertion by direct marketing consultants of the name of the local city or state into RNC fundraising letters in the past often seemed deliberately intended to give donors that impression.
This causes donors to respond to fundraising appeals by state and local parties with irate and incorrect statements that they recently gave to those state and local committees.
What would you do as RNC chairman to prevent the RNC from mailing such misleading letters in the future?
Saul Anuzis: I will prohibit it.
Ken Blackwell: I simply would not allow any misleading mail to be sent. That’s not how Republicans ought to do business.
Katon Dawson: The best method to prevent any future confusion or frustration is clarity, transparency and honesty with the state and local parties and with donors. Many voters — yes, even those who give money — already have a dim opinion of politics and fundraising. We don’t need to give them doubts about donating. From the national end, the RNC needs to offer comprehensive training at regular intervals on fundraising, both for those who work at headquarters and with state and local party officials. In order to take back the majority, we must refine our fundraising methods to better cater to the needs of our donors, who serve as the backbone for our party.
Mike Duncan: Under my Chairmanship, the RNC has never intentionally misled a donor. However, I know the frustration that is felt by State Parties when fundraising solicitations are not clear. I have asked all RNC Members to bring these letters to my attention so that any problems or misunderstandings can be addressed.
John “Chip” Saltsman: For our fundraising to be successful, we must create a new era of teamwork between the RNC and our state and local parties. Rather than competing for resources, we should work cooperatively to ensure that each state gets the funds necessary to properly rebuild their infrastructure. As part of the RNC’s political plan for expansion, I will establish a “Blue State Fund” to solicit contributions specifically to be invested in blue states. While leading Republican fundraisers and donors reside in the Northeast, the party holds few congressional seats in that region. In fact, in the new Congress, there will be no House members from New England at all. By creating this fund and keeping the money in the region, the party will be sending a critical message that there is nowhere in which Republicans cannot, and will not, aggressively compete.
Michael Steele: We must construct a more collaborative relationship between the RNC and state and local parties. First, know that under my leadership, there won’t be donor only states. We’ll work hard to compete in every state.
Further, there is nothing I find less appealing than duplicitous and deceptive direct mail tactics. Many of these tactics take advantage of the elderly and I absolutely deplore them. As we continue to rely on direct mail for fundraising dollars it will be important for the RNC to move towards an increased role for online giving. As Chairman I will never approve any piece of mail (or email) that deliberately misleads donors.
25.Fundraising consultants for national Republican committees frequently send out mass mailings which include up to 40 opinion questions.
Opinion surveys can be useful, but in 2008 long issue surveys didn’t ask a single question about immigration or illegal aliens. This insulted and offended many Republicans.
As RNC chairman, would you make sure that the major issues important to most Republicans are included in wide-ranging surveys mailed in mass numbers by the RNC?
Saul Anuzis: Yes.
Ken Blackwell: Absolutely.
Katon Dawson: It is vital that the voices of voters and of party members are heard. Otherwise, we are shortchanging our own members and undecided voters interested in on hot button issues, who may be looking for a political home. Issues such as illegal immigration are sensitive subjects that are of great importance to many citizens and should be included on all RNC mailings. As RNC chairman, I would make sure that all topics that are of concern to voters are known so that we will be able to provide commonsense solutions to problems that plague our nation.
Mike Duncan: To the extent that the RNC will utilize these surveys in the future, I will make sure the issues we present reflect those important to conservatives and relevant to the national debate occurring at the time. The RNC will be in full control of any future surveys.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Yes, absolutely.
Michael Steele: Yes. As Chairman, I will always make sure that the RNC is engaged in open, honest, and frank discussions on all issues, not just the issues receiving the most attention at the time, but all issues facing our Party. Our Party suffers when we avoid issues because it may offend some segment of the American electorate or even worse, other Republicans. Our discussions should be based on the principles that define us and not on a feel good approach that attempts to make everyone happy.
26.What political consultants are assisting you in your campaign for RNC chairman?
Saul Anuzis: I have no paid consultants on my team. I have several individuals assisting me in my efforts, all are longtime friends and none have done work for or are vendors to the RNC. Katie Packer, who worked for me some 20 years ago with Michigan State Senator Dick Posthumus, and is now a partner in a political consulting firm WWP Strategies, is helping me. She is the only consultant that is spending a significant amount of time on my effort. I have offered no commitment for future business and she is in full agreement that there needs to be a competitive process in terms of any RNC business.
Ken Blackwell: My campaign has retained consultants Josh Geleris. Additionally, John Yob, Charlie Davis, Rhett Davis, and Shannon Flaherty have volunteered their time.
Katon Dawson: I have not paid anyone to assist with my campaign for RNC Chairman. My advisors are long time friends, mentors and most importantly, people whose judgment I trust and opinions I value.
Mike Duncan: I have asked Tom Whatman to manage my campaign for Chairman. Tom is not a political consultant, nor does he anticipate having any business or contract with the RNC.
John “Chip” Saltsman: I have no consultants on the payroll of my campaign for RNC Chairman. On a purely volunteer basis, many of my friends are sharing their advice with me and making calls on my behalf. Among these volunteers, I count my decades long friend Linus Catignani and Chris Maiorana of LCM Strategies.
Michael Steele: I have a large number of Republican activists helping on my campaign over 5,000 have signed up online. I am not paying fees to any professional consultant for their services to my campaign. Among those who are volunteering are: Tony Marsh and Lance Copsey of Marsh Copsey + Associates; Blaise Hazelwood of Grassroots Targeting; Curt Anderson of On Message, Inc.; and Kevin Igoe of Igoe Associates.
PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES AND PLANS
27.Many people decide to join the Republican Party because they believe it is the best vehicle to advance their conservative principles.
Then they see their party leaders and party committees supporting liberal or content-free Republican incumbents for re-nomination.
Or they see their party leaders or party committees supporting non-conservatives for nomination in open seats, giving as a reason that a more conservative candidate “can’t win.”
Or in general elections they see their party leaders or party staff disproportionately directing party resources to non-conservative party nominees rather than to conservative party nominees.
What would you do as RNC chairman that would assure conservatives that such objectionable practices will not happen on your watch?
Saul Anuzis: The role of the RNC Chairman is not to insert themselves in primaries. Once the party chooses the standard bearer, it is the role of the party to support their nominee. The opportunity for conservatives is to get involved in primaries and make sure we nominate candidate that we can support.
Ken Blackwell: I am a member of the board of directors for the Club for Growth because I believe we need stronger conservative candidates to win our party primaries across the country. I do not hesitate in my support of conservatives.
I will end any practice of the RNC that withholds support for candidates based solely on the fact that they are more conservative than others.
Katon Dawson: I will work with Republican leaders at the federal level, and state and local Republican parties to identify candidates and ensure that Republicans appear on the ballot in as many races as possible, and I will support the choices of state and local Republican leaders who know best the candidates running for office in their parts of America.
Mike Duncan: As Party Chairman, I try to lead by example. In supporting candidates, our party relies on the wisdom and judgment of RNC Members and local Party leaders. Through our Partnership 2010 program, we will have more eyes and ears at the local level than ever, and be able to have more of an impact on candidate recruitment, as well as a more consistent means of message delivery from the RNC to the states.
At the RNC, we are fortunate to have an institutional control on our support of candidates that mandates the approval of the three RNC Members from the state involved. As you know, Rule 11 of the Rules of the Republican Party forbids the RNC from providing any candidate support in a contested primary without the express consent of the three RNC Members from that state.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Voters and party activists choose our candidates, not RNC Chairmen. As Chairman, I will promote a level playing field upon which all of our prospective leaders debate their visions for their state and our nation. All who choose to run under the Republican banner will be welcome to compete, while I am Chairman.
Michael Steele: To regain our credibility as the party of conservative principles, we need to identify and recruit talented candidates who will carry those principles into battle. I will support recruitment efforts wherever we don’t have an existing Republican candidate. I am not inclined to even attempt to pick winners in Republican primaries. I will support Republican nominees — all Republican nominees. Of course, those most committed to winning by best articulating our core Republican message and successfully attracting resources and votes will be rewarded with all of the resources we can offer. As a general rule, however, the RNC under my leadership will work hard to contest every election, appeal to every voter, everywhere.
28.The results of the 2010 elections will largely determine the congressional and state legislative reapportionment for a decade.
In past decades, the RNC and the National Republican Congressional Committee have designated small working groups to plan and coordinate Republican efforts in the run-up to reapportionment.
Prior to the 1990 elections, for example, such a working group focused not just on state legislative races and gubernatorial races. They also developed and implemented plans for state supreme court elections, media strategies, legal strategies, etc.
Regarding reapportionment and redistricting, what would you do as RNC chairman? And how much RNC money would you allocate to this vitally important matter?
Saul Anuzis: I have consistently looked at this as a long term project. We have committed a multi year program and fundraising effort. I would do the same at the RNC.
Ken Blackwell: I have a lot of experience working on matters related to redistricting. It would be my top priority as RNC Chairman after the re establishment of our conservative brand.
Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott asked me to lead our efforts across the country in fighting the Democrat attempts to utilize sampling in order to gain an advantage in the 2000 Census. I traveled to all fifty states to fight the Democrats in this battle and lead our efforts in legal and political venues across the country. So, this will not be a new fight for me.
Obviously, the comprehensive effort we need will be very costly, but it would be impossible to give you a specific amount at this time.
I believe that one of the most important jobs we have in 2010 is winning the battle for state legislative chambers and governorships so that we can guarantee that Democrats do not gerrymander districts to unfairly hurt Republican congressional prospects. Generally, we must:
Identify states where there are opportunities to capture state legislative chambers that we do not currently hold and do so.
Identify states where we currently have a tenuous hold on a chamber, identify districts within the state where we can help, and do what we can to shore up the Republicans in those seats.
Katon Dawson: As RNC Chairman, I will ask each state party to form advisory committees on redistricting in their states. The RNC will form one as well that will assist these state parties in writing a redistricting plan for their state. The outcome of these plans, as well as a specific fundraising campaign for redistricting, will determine how much RNC money will be devoted to this effort.
Mike Duncan: Reapportionment and redistricting are of critical importance. Part of my 10 point plan focuses specifically on this subject. One of the working groups that I have recommended in my Member Driven Committee initiative will focus exclusively on reapportionment and redistricting. I have pledged to make sure we have the financial, political and legal tools we need to help Republicans in every state apply their rightful influence on the process to ensure that new district maps are drawn properly and fairly.
Our strategy will focus on three main areas: technology, litigation, and the election of decision makers. Our Partnership 2010 initiative will have a paid staff member in every state whose responsibilities will include be working on redistricting and reapportionment. As this will be an effort that spans at least six years, I believe that it will require a financial commitment of millions of dollars.
John “Chip” Saltsman: While the press continues to speculate about the next presidential contest in 2012, I can assure you that my focus as RNC Chairman will be on the governors’ and state legislative races in 2010. Those elections have extraordinary importance because of reapportionment and redistricting. In my home state of Tennessee, for example, Republicans now control both the State House and Senate for the first time since 1869. If we can maintain our current majorities and retake the Governor’s mansion in 2010, Tennessee’s political landscape can be dramatically reshaped. By closely coordinating with each of our fifty state parties, the RNC can maximize our party’s capacity to redraw the map for the next decade.
Michael Steele: Preparation for the reapportionment and redistricting process is essential to Republican political success in the second decade of the twenty first century. I am fully committed to using the resources necessary to ensure a fair reapportionment process in all 50 states, encompassing the full spectrum of elected offices.
The RNC, under my Chairmanship, will: 1. establish an RNC Redistricting Office which will provide direct access to all 50 state working groups; 2. provide legal and technical assistance to each state working group; 3. Develop state of the art technology for assembling, accessing, and mapping relevant demographic and vote history data; 4. Provide the most talented redistricting experts available to consult with and assist each state work group.
As Maryland State Party Chairman, I sued the incumbent Democrat Governor over his unfair re districting plan and Maryland Courts overturned his partisan gerrymandered state legislative plan. Democrat legislative leaders were found to have committed ethical violations by attempting to influence the Court’s decision and I brought ethics charges against several members of the State Senate including the Senate President. When it comes to getting a fair shake for Republicans in the reapportionment and redistricting process, I won’t hesitate to play hardball regardless of the opponent.
29.Some RNC chairmen over the years have been full-time chairmen. Others have held the post and retained other political or business responsibilities.
If elected, would you be a full-time RNC chairman?
Saul Anuzis: Yes.
Ken Blackwell: I would be a full time Chairman of the RNC and would resign most other responsibilities, with the exception of those roles that I could legally keep at the NRA, NTU and FRC.
Katon Dawson: Yes.
Mike Duncan: Over the past two years, I have been a full time chairman, and I will continue to be. The job of chairman of the RNC is a full time job, and I will continue to treat it as such.
John “Chip” Saltsman: I will be a full time RNC Chairman, just as I was a full time Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 1998 to 2001. My singular focus will be Republican resurgence across the country.
Michael Steele: I will be a full time chairman.
30.When Democrats hold the White House, the RNC chairman must serve often as “the face of the Republican Party.”
Are you confident that you have the speaking skills and effective presence on television to perform successfully against those whom the Democrats would put up against you?
Saul Anuzis: Yes. I also believe that the job of chairman is not simply to be a “spokesmodel” for core principles. Our chairman must be a strong believer in those principles to articulate them effectively. AND our chairman must have the ability to attract other well known, articulate spokespersons to communicate our message.
Ken Blackwell: Yes. I’ve been on network programming regularly for many years and feel very comfortable in that role.
Katon Dawson: Yes, proven during my tenure as the nation’s fourth longest serving state GOP chairman whose state also has a critical, much televised primary.
Mike Duncan: Yes. As Chairman, I have appeared on countless news and interview programs delivering our message, from local and state media outlets to national networks such as CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC and FoxNews. I’ve used these opportunities to speak our on critical issues of national importance and to address political issues within the Republican Party.
While I believe I have the skills needed to effectively deliver our message, I also firmly believe that our party is best served when we have many effective messengers explaining our vision and carrying the Republican banner from coast to coast. As Chairman, it is also my responsibility to make sure we continue to recruit and develop our team of Republican spokespeople. That is why I am so excited about reconstituting the RNC Speakers Bureau and having talented and effective Republican spokespersons speaking around the country and reaching every American.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Our next RNC Chairman must be able use to communicate our values, advance our agenda, and fight the liberals running the federal government as they inevitably overreach. Based on my appearances on all the major news networks and my regular role as a Republican strategist on Fox News, I’m confident that I can meet these challenges creatively, appropriately and aggressively.
Michael Steele: Because I believe so passionately that our Republican ideals can enrich the lives of all Americans — regardless of race, gender, geography, or class — I have specifically sought to speak directly to Americans through a variety of outlets. I have had the privilege of speaking at two national conventions and the honor of representing our country at the Vatican and in Africa and the Middle East. I have also thoroughly enjoyed engaging in the public discourse that appeals to a slightly different audience through The Colbert Report and the Bill Mahr Show.
A memorable and effective speaker is equal parts passion, purpose, and knowledge. I have been that for our Party and will be that as your Chairman.
31.There’s a consensus that the major national media were overwhelmingly unfavorable to the Republican Party and its candidates in the recent election. This biased coverage helped create a bandwagon effect for Democrats.
What plans would you implement to get for Republicans a more even break in the news media leading up to the 2010 elections?
Saul Anuzis: I will work hard to build relationships with members of the press. I will treat them with respect when they get it right. But I will also be willing to challenge them when they are obviously shilling for the other side. Our party cannot win when the media behaves like a division of the DNC.
Ken Blackwell: We must run a more effective press operation and smarter campaigns. We will structure our communications department to be not only reactive, but proactive. Because much of the national media is a multi million dollar empire dedicated to the liberal cause and that we may never change that dynamic, we must find ways to communicate our message to voters despite this bent. We must use emerging technology to level the playing field.
Republicans must choose their words carefully in this environment and make sure that we connect with the voters, regardless of the media. Our candidates and party leaders need better training, and we will provide this.
We also need to encourage the development of additional conservative media. The rise of the Internet as the primary source of news for a plurality of Americans presents us with great opportunities for finding a balance to the traditional liberal media.
Katon Dawson: Fighting the liberal media is an uphill battle. Critical to doing so will be having an aggressive communications staff at the RNC who can effective convey our party’s messages through the media to the voters. I’ll also ensure that state and local Republican parties have access to materials that empower them to communicate our core principles to voters. Of course, as chairman I’ll actively seek opportunities to speak with members of the press about our party’s solutions to issues facing America today.
Mike Duncan: While there is no doubt the mainstream media is dominated by a liberal bias, surveys also show that the general public recognizes this fact. In other words, I credit the American public with the ability to filter the bias of whatever medium they are seeing or hearing at any given time. However, the reality of the media bias means that the RNC must optimize our use of new media to take our message directly to the public, unfiltered by the liberal left. We’ve made huge strides in communicating via email and the web, but we need to be focusing on the next leap in communications technology.
I will also adamantly fight against any effort to reinstate the so called “Fairness Doctrine.” Not only is this an effort to quiet conservative talk radio, the Doctrine proposes an unconstitutional limitation on the freedom of the press. The government has absolutely no role in dictating how radio or television outlets cover the news or allow political opinions to be expressed, within the bounds of decency.
John “Chip” Saltsman: The mainstream media’s bias in this election cycle is hardly a new phenomenon. Going back to 1984, independent scholars found Ronald Reagan’s coverage was ten to one negative, while his Democratic challenger, Walter Mondale, received a majority of positive coverage. And we know how that turned out. Since the likelihood of the media altering its ideological perspective is about as likely as Speaker Pelosi cutting government spending, it is incumbent on the RNC to forcefully challenge every instance of bias and of favoritism in real time, as we monitor the governing troika of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Getting out an accurate and coherent Republican message will take a great deal of time and effort from the committee’s research and communications staff. A “watchdog” division within the national party should be established whose sole mission is to monitor and report on the actions of Washington, D.C. Democrats. By strategically countering wrong headed Obama Reid Pelosi policies, legislation and appointments, the Republican Party will offer stronger, more vibrant opposition. This department will have to work closely with bloggers, talk radio hosts and reporters to get the message out. I also believe that information should be distributed directly to party activists and members for viral dissemination. We all understand the impact of the internet in quickly spreading information of public import. Accordingly, we should curtail the practice of saving opposition research for independent expenditure units to run in expensive television ads. We will continue to share the information with our supporters directly on the committee’s website. But we should also provide the tools for our supporters to easily distribute the information within their networks of friends and family and on their own personal websites and blogs. Releases should also offer the opportunity for recipients to contribute, sign up online, and get involved with our party in other meaningful ways.
Michael Steele: For too long there has been a “them vs. us” mentality towards the media. Outlets perceived, however correctly, as biased have been completely shunned. We need to engage these outlets, include them in our media tours, and re open the dialogue. After all, there is a reason Hillary and Barack appeared on Fox. Strong and clear messages delivered by assertive messengers will form the building blocks necessary to rebuild a palpable Republican presence in all 50 states.
As RNC Chairman, I personally will begin this process but will also work to develop this capability across the party by training state and local organizations and candidates on how to work with the press and how to push for consistency and fidelity in media reporting.
An innovative RNC would also recognize that traditional media is not the only way to speak to voters. We have to recapture our position of leadership in political technology by investing in emerging marketing tools that leverage wireless and internet platforms. Leadership in this arena now will enable us to overcome existing media hierarchies and communicate more directly with voters in 2010 and beyond. Moreover, I intend to create an ‘RNC Intranet” to facilitate the communication of strategies and information among the members to share with local and state media. Communication in politics like location in real estate means everything!
32.Surveys showed a dramatic decline in recent years in the number of Americans identifying themselves as Republicans. It has frequently been said that our party “lost its brand.”
What must be done to recover the more favorable opinion people recently had for the Republican Party? If it’s a matter of “recovering our brand,” what strategy and tactics should the party use to re-introduce itself attractively to the American people?
Saul Anuzis: Until our national leaders, particularly in Congress, actually stand up for our center right principles, we won’t win. We need to put forth an agenda that affects real people with real problems - from Wall Street to Main Street. And we need to call our leaders on the carpet when they say one thing to voters and behave in a different way.
Ken Blackwell: Much of this is due to the Iraq War, the historically low approval ratings of the President and the economic troubles we are now facing. In time, I am confident that we will recover. Meanwhile, we can speed along this recovery by sharply distinguishing ourselves from the Democrats. That means Republicans must stop growing government and spending taxpayer money. We have to stop worrying about receiving the love and affection of the liberal media and stick to our guns. The American people want a party that stands for fiscal responsibility, defending our nation at home and abroad, and fighting for a culture of life. For too long, many in our party have acted too much like the Democrats. When the American people are faced with the choice of “Democrat Lite” or the real thing, they choose the authentic article every time. So the passing of time coupled with a commitment to principle and a clear, concise, positive, practical message will solve this problem.
Katon Dawson: A successful political party learns from its mistakes and charts a new way forward to achieve victory in the future. In recent years, our party lost its way. We lost our core identity. We became the party of Washington instead of the party of Middle America. And, we failed to communicate a compelling vision for America’s future. The gift of communication given to us by Ronald Reagan was lost with candidates and party leaders speaking from talking points instead of speaking from the heart.
The Republican Party was once known as the party of lower taxes and less spending. We delivered on tax cuts, which helped our economy expand, but we failed to win the fight to have a permanent tax reduction. We failed to streamline government, shut down failed programs and reduce waste, fraud and taxpayer abuse. Republicans turned on the spigot of big spending, expanded bloated government programs and created new entitlements.
The Republican Party was once known as the party of small business, entrepreneurship and enterprise. That mantle was lost when our leaders promoted big government, big spending, and more mandates and regulation. Small business creates more than 80 percent of the jobs in America, yet our Republican Party spent too much time focusing on federal government policy than freeing up our most productive class, America’s small businessmen and women.
The Republican Party was once known for having a steady cultural and moral compass. But some of our leaders engaged in unethical practices, immoral conduct and political corruption causing voters to lose trust in us. We know why we have failed, now we need to learn from our mistakes, change course and build upon the core principles that brought us success in the past. We should be hopeful about our future, we should be confident in our course. Hope, confidence and victory will come, with the right plan and the right leaders.
To understand how we move forward, we must understand where we went wrong. Below are four specific failures which contributed to the setbacks suffered by Republicans in 2006 and 2008:
1 Excessive Spending
In 2005, Republicans held a solid majority in Congress. But its members in Congress were spending at twice the rate as they had under President Clinton. Republicans passed the nation’s largest entitlement program in forty years the Medicare prescription drug plan, and the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere,” a $223 million bridge in Alaska to an island of fifty residents, became a symbol of wasteful spending at the hands of Republicans. In November 2006, the Republican inconsistency between message and legislative action was exposed, and consequently, we lost control of Congress. The Republican Party behaved like teenagers at the mall with mom and dad’s credit card. We spent like mad and didn’t care who paid the bill. On Election Day, the bill came due and price we paid was massive defeat.
2 - Scandal and Corruption
The unraveling of the Republican majority can be largely attributed to a perceived culture of corruption. Since 2006, more than seventeen Republican members of Congress had been implicated in sexual and financial scandals. Five instances of impropriety in the years since were particularly damaging; Representative Mark Foley’s inappropriate correspondence with young male pages, Senator Larry Craig’s airport incident, Representative Duke Cunningham’s bribery scandal, Representative Bob Ney’s involvement with Jack Abramoff, and most recently the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens. Couple these instances of corruption with doubts about the conduct of war and the management of our economy and you have a formula for widespread distrust of the Republican brand.
3 - The Struggle for a New Conservative Agenda
The successes enjoyed by Republicans in the early 1990s find their roots in Ronald Reagan’s vision of the 1980s. In fact, a Rasmussen poll taken in early October of 2008 showed 59 percent agreed with Ronald Reagan’s seminal line in his first Inaugural: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Just 28 percent disagreed and 44 percent of Obama voters agreed with Ronald Reagan. Voters saw Obama as being authentic on tax cutting, while John McCain was not. Obama stole the Republican Party’s core tax message and got a way with it. And, while Obama was advocating tax reduction, the Bush administration was rolling out a $700 billion dollar taxpayer backed bailout. The legislative and political successes of the First Republican Revolution are closely knitted together. The Contract with America not only charted a path for a permanent political majority, but also for sound conservative policy. The Contract was overwhelmingly successful because it abided by the adage, “good policy is good politics.” Today’s challenge is finding innovative ways of applying our conservative principles to current challenges and opportunities of American life.
Republicans need to put a human face on the problems Americans face today. We must address kitchen table issues and do so by putting our hard working families foremost in our minds. We will not forget the mother who has to send her child to a failed school. We will not abandon the father who has lost his job or entrepreneur who is being crushed by taxes and regulation. We will not permit the Democrats to destroy the most effective health care delivery system in the world and replace it with a government run monstrosity that takes away our right to choose our own doctor. Republicans still believe in ‘We the People’ not ‘Us the Government.’”
4 - Securing the Support of Middle Class Americans
Middle class voters don’t ask for much. The mother or father wants a good job at a good wage. They want their child to walk on a safe street, attend a good school and learn the skills that will allow them to succeed in life. The family wants affordable health care and financial security. They want to live in a clean environment in a community that cares where religious rights are respected and individual rights are guaranteed. Our middle class families want to live the American Dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. To do that, government must be limited and personal freedom must be expanded. Too often, the Republican Party is framed as the Party of big business, Wall Street or Special Interests. The reality is that the GOP is the party of the common man and woman and always has been. We seek to speak for the forgotten men and women who hold down two jobs, work part time or just get by on what they earn. We seek to deliver on the dream of lower taxes so our families have bigger paychecks. We will also hold Wall Street and Washington accountable. We reject those who game the system, bankrupt companies and escape with golden parachutes. We will also stand up for the rule of law and fair play by enforcing our immigration laws and securing our border.
What Will It Take to Set Things Right?
Renew. Reform. Restore. Our Party must renew its commitment to the Republican principles of less government spending, lower taxes, individual freedom, strong national security, respect for the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and the importance of family. These are the timeless principles of the Republican Party that have served our party well for decades.
Whether you are an Eisenhower, Nixon, Goldwater, Ford, Reagan, Bush or McCain Republican, at our very core has been the concept that the people, not the government, know best how to spend their hard earned dollars. Through tax cuts and holding the line on government spending, Republican policies have encouraged the growth of the private sector of the economy, which leads to job creation, more innovation and a diversification of our economy. Protecting individual liberty is an important plank of our economic message. The American Dream will thrive again if we as Republicans will not cave into the interests of an expansive, activist government.
Keeping America safe and secure through a strong national defense has been an integral part of the Republican Party. Our presidents and leaders have always known that America that despite what our wishes, America has enemies that fear democracy, liberty and individual freedom. They fear that their oppressed citizens will demand the same rights and freedoms we are endowed from our Creator. A strong national defense to defend our sovereignty and ensure our national security is a key plank in our platform and we should never wave from it.
America is unique among the world’s democracies in that religion and the morality derived from religion permeates throughout America. Americans attend religious services much more often compared to Europe and other Western democracies. At the center of the most dominant religions in America is the family. As a party, we have focused on a number if issues to protect, strengthen and encourage the family as the bedrock of the American experience. Going forward, our party must continue to be the party that best understands the concerns of today’s American families. Our party must restore hope to everyday Americans by clearly communicating the practical applications of modern conservatism to the realities they face.
The Republican Party should not become the opposition party that always says “no.” Rather, we should become the party that says “here’s a better idea that will work.” It is simply not good enough to simply be against something all the time. If we are to regain center right independents, we will need to be a party of solutions. And we must explain our solutions in easily understood language with concrete, real world examples.
Ronald Reagan’s optimistic outlook brought America out of the worst recession since the Great Depression and his can do spirit helped win the Cold War. We need to be happy warriors; fighting the legislative battles with vigor but not because of hate or spite. Our message has worked in the past and will resonate with voters again once we regain their trust. It will not happen overnight, but by integrating our message into everything we do as a party we will soon be the preferred political party of choice by the voters.
Mike Duncan: First, I would disagree with the commentary that the “brand” of the RNC was lost or can be recovered. Republicanism is not a consumer good on the shelf of a store. Republicanism is a conservative philosophy that promotes individual liberty, defends freedom, and recognizes that strong family and societal values are the cornerstone of our democracy. Over the past several years, we did not deliver on our core conservative principles and we lost the confidence of the electorate.
Second, we are already taking steps to recommit ourselves to our conservative roots and we are already seeing the results. Since the Presidential election on November 4, the RNC has filed lawsuits challenging the current campaign finance regime, Republicans have won three Federal elections in Georgia and Louisiana, and we are bringing elected officials and Party leaders together to plan strategies and tactics for 2009. We know that Democrats are looking to quickly move a liberal agenda and we do not have a moment to waste.
Third, as we continue to move forward, we must be the Party of Ideas and we must stay true to our conservative principles. Over the past twenty years, the ideology of our electorate has remained the same, with about 20% of the electorate identifying themselves as liberal with the remaining 80% almost evenly split between conservative and moderate. Majorities of American voters support reduced government spending, tax cuts, smaller government, and market driven solutions to health care and energy challenges.
When the Republican Party provides American voters policies and ideas to believe in, we will recapture conservative voters that have drifted away from the Party. The first step in this effort will be through the Center for Republican Renewal and the RNC Speakers Bureau. We need to proudly talk about who we are and what we believe, and connect that to people’s everyday lives.
John “Chip” Saltsman: Through good times and bad, the Republican brand over the past eight years has been tied to President George W. Bush. And it is indisputable that the President’s historically low approval rating helped to create a strong headwind for our candidates this past November. Voters saw time and again that Republican elected officials in Washington did not match their rhetoric with action. We made commitments on spending, on border security and on public integrity that we did not keep. I believe the answer to regaining favorability is to bring Republicans back to the principles of fiscal restraint and individual responsibility. As a new generation of Republican state leaders from across the country - Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford, Charlie Crist, Jodi Rell, Mitch Daniels - emerge as top party spokespeople, I have every confidence that our party can arise bolder, stronger, and more cohesive in the months and years to come.
Michael Steele: In a post election survey I asked the Tarrance Group to conduct on GOPAC’s behalf, we found some interesting things. 69% of Americans consider themselves fiscal conservatives; 53%, social conservatives; and, 55% of Americans still perceive Ronald Reagan as best example of Republican principles at work. And, yet, a majority of Americans don’t feel the Republican Party has been standing up for its ideals. This dichotomy has come to be referred to as our “brand problem.” Some in our own party say we’ve lost our way. That may be, but, in my time as GOPAC Chairman, I’ve met so many state and local Republican leaders who live the “brand” every day and whom I wish Americans knew more about.
I invite proponents of a Republican “marketplace of ideas” to join me in building an RNC that leverages its intimacy with state and local leaders to highlight and share the successes of Republicans in state houses, gubernatorial mansions, and on city councils. The RNC should certainly be the highway for the flow of expertise and dollars but why not of innovation as well? By sharing and highlighting the novel and practicable solutions championed by Republican leaders across the country we can demonstrate again the pragmatic conservatism that earned voters’ trust in the first place.
Tactically, our message carrying techniques must be revisited and refined to reflect the same caliber ingenuity. We must re engage our media partners to ensure the positive tone and common sense content of our message has an opportunity to reach the public. We have to invest in new technology in order to reach audiences in new ways through a more thoughtful presence on social networking sites, blogs, and high traffic websites. Clearly, we need to ensure state, local, and campaign communications have more timely access to thought leaders and leaders in Washington.
33.To become again the majority party, Republicans must identify, recruit, and train large numbers of new activists and leaders.
As RNC chairman, what would you do to multiply our Republican recruitment and training of new activists and leaders at the state and local levels?
Saul Anuzis: As I’ve mentioned, this starts with articulating ideas that engender passion in the people of America. When we do the former, people will be energized. Only then will we have the financial resources to do these things.
Ken Blackwell: I refer again to my answer to question 1.
There isn’t anyone in the country who knows more about identifying, training, and recruiting new conservative activists than you, Morton. The Leadership Institute does a tremendous job training new conservatives. But there is one element essential to our success in multiplying our Republican recruitment and training of new activists and leaders at the state and local levels: inspiration. It is nearly impossible to multiply our recruitment if we fail to inspire our base.
We will inspire the base by remaking the Republican brand into a conservative brand as it was in our successful election years of 1980, 1984, 1994, and to some degree 2000. A Republican brand that is conservative on social issues, conservative on fiscal issues, and aggressive in opposing, rather than appeasing, the liberal agenda will inspire a new generation of conservatives to take a role in the Republican Party.
By taking strong stands, we will energize and grow our base.
The next step is to identify these potential supporters. We will implement a three step process to identify these new supporters.
1. We will use microtargeting techniques to identify potential new supporters and contact them with traditional political means such as personal contact.
2. We will identify potential new supporters in the venues in which they communicate: Facebook, blogs, emails, Twitter, and other social networking venues.
3. We will re establish communication with the College Republican National Committee (CRNC). We must find ways to properly communicate and work with the future leaders of our party. When I am Chairman, our CR’s will have the support they need to be potent force on our nation’s campuses.
Katon Dawson: See Question 1 regarding Project 3141 and Operation eGOP.
Mike Duncan: In my career, one of my greatest personal accomplishments has been my opportunity to serve as a mentor to young people across the country. I think there is no better investment than the one we make in the next generation.
Under my tenure as RNC Chairman, we have dramatically increased the numbers of activists and leaders that we have trained in our Campaign Management programs, our Victory Schools, our Campaign Finance Colleges, and our New Media College. When the graduates of these programs came together in Georgia to support Saxby Chambliss, they all understood all the resources and capabilities at their disposal and they all spoke the same campaign “language”.
I have recommended that our Political Training programs receive increased funding in the RNC budget for 2009 and I am proud that the Members of the Budget Committee approved this increase. In addition, Partnership 2010 will place a fully trained staff member in each state. That individual will work with State Party leaders and RNC Members to evaluate the needs of the State and local parties and can recommend that individuals participate in RNC training programs to ensure that each State Party has staff with the right skills to be successful.
John “Chip” Saltsman: As RNC Chairman, I know that we will not find many new party activists within the Washington Beltway. We will find these grassroots leaders within each of our fifty state parties and within our fervently dedicated online communities. With control of the White House, we inevitably experienced centralization and concentration of power at the top of the party hierarchy. Under my leadership, the national party will not sit within its ivory tower dispensing wisdom to our state parties and their grassroots supporters. Rather, the RNC will serve as a clearinghouse for promoting newer, successful ideas implemented at the state level, whether in communication, recruitment, voter registration or any other of our myriad party activities.
Michael Steele: I plan to recruit and train 25,000 new activist leaders by 2012. To make this army a reality, as Chairman, I will:
* Ask the people who know. I will enlist our state party officials and operatives to quickly get the RNC up to speed on the lessons learned and best practices in each state for recruitment. As the activists most intimately in touch with voters, state and local leaders’ insights will help the RNC ramp up recruitment more rapidly and efficiently.
* Ask all the people who know. I will lead a 50 state recruitment effort to ensure every Republican in every district has an opportunity to become a thoughtful and effective community leader.
* Recruit as one. State party and RNC outreach and voter registration must work together as one effort. By sharing technological investments and protocols we can begin developing the tools to harmonize outreach efforts and connect activists in a comprehensive and real time manner.
* Train to win. Activist enthusiasm and energy has to be fed with knowledge and resources. The RNC, under my chairmanship, will lead the way in cultivating activists through training tailored to their spheres of operation.
Ambitious change requires time, energy and resources. But, with the right people in place, firm goals and a spirit of cooperation and collaboration, we will — from the local level on up — boost volunteer recruitment and programs.
34.What are the principal assets you would bring to the chairmanship?
Commitment - You won’t find a Republican in Michigan that doesn’t feel that I have given 100% “plus” to growing and strengthening our party.
Energy - I do not let up. I am called the “energizer bunny” of Michigan politics because I bring an energy and excitement to my role.
Youth - I represent a new generation of leader. I can communicate our conservative ideas with passion but can speak the language of young people, using new technologies to reach them.
Leadership - I have the leadership qualities necessary to get people to contribute and get people to join our effort.
Ken Blackwell: The primary resources that I bring to the chairmanship are:
I would come to the position of RNC Chairman as one of the most qualified new chairmen in our party’s history. My experience as Ohio State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Republican nominee for Governor, Mayor of Cincinnati and board member for many leading conservative organizations would allow me to hit the ground running.
I would also bring the ability to represent our party in the media and be a strong, conservative, aggressive counterweight to the Obama Administration. I have significant experience on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. I have written for the Washington Times and Townhall.com. Simply put, I have more experience working with the media than any other candidate and would have the ability to take on the Obama Administration without hesitation or other considerations.I have credibility with national conservative leaders who know that I will run a Republican National Committee that will not back away from making sharp contrasts with the Obama administration on issues important to every segment of our conservative coalition including social issues, fiscal issues, and national defense.
This outsider perspective is required to make the big changes to the RNC that are necessary. An experienced but outside the beltway candidate for chairman is the only one who can make the changes necessary to restore trust in our party and build an energized national committee. A blank slate is required and a willingness to offend the status quo where it has failed is essential. I have the outsider perspective that is necessary to bring about real change.
I have an understanding of what it takes to win elections in a swing state. I have won statewide office in Ohio three times as a candidate for Treasurer and Secretary of State. I know how campaigns are run both from the candidate side of the equation and the activist side of the equation.
I have experience raising the large amount of resources we need for our party to be successful. I raised over $12 million for a race for Governor in a very difficult year and have been involved in raising money for national conservative organizations for years.
Katon Dawson: I have rebuilt the Republican Party in South Carolina from the bottom up. As Party Chairman, I launched an unprecedented grassroots political plan to identify and turn out Republican voters in record numbers. The results were historic. Under my leadership in 2002, Republicans defeated an incumbent Democrat governor, kept control of the open U.S. Senate seat by electing Lindsey Graham and defeated two statewide Democrat officeholders. For the first time since 1877, Republicans controlled the governor’s office and both houses of the General Assembly. What made the wins so notable is that I took over the South Carolina Republican Party with pre existing debts of over $300,000 and facing a $160,000 FEC fine. It wasn’t enough to have a good fundraising plan. I actually executed that plan and got the party out of debt. Under my leadership, the GOP won an open Democrat U.S. Senate seat with Jim DeMint in 2004. In 2006, South Carolina re elected Republican Gov. Mark Sanford and Republicans took eight out of nine constitutional offices in the Palmetto State. And in 2008, Republicans in South Carolina again made history by electing the first Republican African American state Representative since Reconstruction. In the last four election cycles, the South Carolina Republican Party has won 80 percent of its races.
As a member of the Republican National Committee, I have a unique understanding of the challenges and issues facing our party. My service on the Committee makes me better equipped to understand and to listen the needs of my fellow members. As the next RNC Chairman, I will empower members and work to ensure the RNC is focused on state and local parties. I understand that we cannot turn the RNC over to individuals with outside agendas, and I know that we need more state driven solutions to the problems facing our Party.
I am a successful businessman in the real world — not a lawyer or a paid political professional. I am not tied to the Washington, D.C. consultant culture. I have never been on the payroll of any campaign or lobbying firm. I believe consultants and staff work for us and the party not the other way around. The 2008 election should have taught us that voters are looking for real world, commonsense solutions. In fact, 65 percent of RNC members recently surveyed said winning gubernatorial races would help most to build and grow their respective state parties. I am from South Carolina, not Washington, D.C. I have toiled in the state trenches and know what it takes to recruit good candidates and how to build a party from the bottom up. I will renew the RNC’s focus on state parties and work tirelessly to ensure we have the right message, the right candidates, and the necessary funds to return our party to the majority.
Mike Duncan: While some in the media have enjoyed telling the story of a broken RNC, the truth is that our RNC staff and programs performed at record levels. Unfortunately, in 2008, that wasn’t enough. However, we do not need to start over; rather, we need to build on the infrastructure we have to take our performance to the next level.
I bring a business model approach to the role of Chairman. Drawing on my experience as a successful small businessman, I have insisted that the RNC be able to show a return to our investors for every dollar spent. While that may not have been popular with consultants or contractors trying to get rich off our donors, I believe that every investment we make must show dividends at the ballot box.
I also bring the experience of thirty years as a Member of the RNC. I have held almost every position within the Party and I continue to be a precinct captain in my hometown. As a delegate to the 1976 Convention for Ronald Reagan, I understand the underlying principles that drove our Revolutions in 1980 and again in 1994.I am a nuts and bolts Chairman and I am a Member’s Chairman. I understand that the work of the National Party depends on more than flash or rhetorical flourishes. I enjoy the hard work and behind the scenes innovation that are crucial to Republican successes. I have a proven ability to raise money, the experience to manage the huge organization that is the RNC, and the knowledge of how to use our resources for maximum results.
John “Chip” Saltsman: I believe that the next Chairman of the RNC must be an experienced fundraiser, a capable communicator, and an effective political organizer and strategist. I believe the next Chairman should not only have experience running a national political organization or campaign, but also proven success at the state level. As Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party, campaign manager for a Republican presidential campaign, and business owner, I believe I’m ready to guide the coming resurgence of our Republican Party.
Michael Steele: Many Republicans first came to know me through some of my media appearances. I feel fortunate to have had a very positive relationship with the media and even more fortunate to have found that the passion I have for our movement resonates so strongly with Republicans all over the country. Certainly, I plan to continue leveraging that communications connection.
What some Republicans may not realize, though, is what it is that feeds the energy that seems to have become my hallmark. While others talk about returning to the grassroots, I’ve quite simply never left. I’ve always felt our “on the ground” operations were what kept us connected to the voters and what put Republicans in office. Grassroots networks will continue to be the source of our best ideas and our most promising opportunities.
It’s been tremendously satisfying, then, to have led GOPAC for almost 2 years now, coordinating with and supporting state and local Republican candidates. As GOPAC Chair, we raised more money in the 2008 cycle than in any other in GOPAC’s history more than $8 million dollars for our state parties, legislative caucuses and legislative candidates.
I’ve also campaigned personally for Republican candidates in more than a dozen states this year in addition to the states I visited on behalf of our presidential nominee. In stumping for these Republicans on the frontlines and fundraising in every conceivable corner of the country, I have had the opportunity to work closely with a diversity of Republican leaders. I’ve worked with Republican leaders from Vermont to Vidalia, leaders tagged as “traditionalist” and those characterized as “reformist.” I bring to this post an appreciation for the nuances across the spectrum of political thought and ideology; but most importantly, a firm understanding of the principles that unite us.
35.What are your deficiencies, and how would you organize the RNC to make up for those deficiencies?
Saul Anuzis: I’m not a “Washington insider” and therefore lack some of the institutional knowledge. But I am a quick study and because I’m not “married” to a particular way of doing things, I am willing to make necessary changes. I will seek input from party leaders, conservative leaders and smart people all across the country to get the job done.
Ken Blackwell: While I have not been a member of the Republican National Committee, I strongly argue that the members should choose the person who they believe would be our best leader against the Obama Administration regardless of current membership.
I understand that awareness of the workings of the committee is important. For that reason, I will bring in a team of RNC Members to serve as my deputies and assist me in the workings of the committee. After my election as Chairman, I hope RNC Members will support candidates for the position of Co Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer who are current members of the committee because I recognize the importance of institutional committee knowledge.
Katon Dawson: I believe my record of winning elections, fundraising, being an effective communicator and expanding our Party’s base in South Carolina qualify me for RNC Chairman. But more importantly, I am a better listener than I am a talker. I believe the deficiency that has plagued the RNC and other Washington based party committees is that Washington doesn’t do enough listening. As RNC Chairman, RNC members and state parties would know first and foremost I want to hear THEIR opinions first, since they are on the ground working fighting the good fight every day. I believe an RNC that listens to its local team first will be able to better prepare for the curveballs that are thrown our way in politics.
Mike Duncan: My main deficiency is that I cannot be everywhere at once. To make up for that limitation, I am devoted to a Speakers Bureau so the Republican message can be heard far and wide. I am dedicated to Partnership 2010, so the RNC resources will be available full time in every state. And, I am dedicated to a Member driven Committee to make sure every RNC member can contribute to the future success of our Party.
John “Chip” Saltsman: My deficiencies are many. But I recognize that effective leaders are confident and thoughtful enough to surround themselves with the best and brightest minds and the hardest working people capable of carrying out a strategic vision. As RNC Chairman, I will assemble a fresh team of energetic conservatives who share our core values and who are ready to roll up their sleeves to help rebuild our party one day at a time.
Michael Steele: As a county chairman, a state chairman, a candidate and as an elected official, I’ve had the opportunity to view the RNC through various lenses and can bring a local activist’s and state candidate’s sensibilities to the chairmanship. Yet, that alone will not be enough. No one person’s experiences will be enough to transform the RNC. To bring as much insight and wisdom into our operations as possible, I will build strong bridges to state party officials and develop a seasoned staff who will support my efforts to create build a party unified in message but also in operation.
36.Do you think we need an institutionally strong chairman, or do you favor a team approach at the RNC?
Saul Anuzis: I will be a strong chairman that relies on a team to get the job done. But I believe that the buck stops with me.
Ken Blackwell: Both. I favor both an institutionally strong Chairman who takes a team approach to running the RNC. RNC Members will have more say in the process of running the committee than national consultants. This would allow a number of people to be involved in the workings of the committee yet allow a strong Chairman to lead the team and to present a counterweight to the Obama administration especially in the media.
Katon Dawson: The RNC Chairman will be one of many faces of the Republican Party. We need to find new messengers to deliver our message at the right time and through the right medium. My bid for RNC Chairman is the capstone for my involvement in Republican Party politics. I am not seeking this office because I want to run for public office or to gain national notoriety. I am running for RNC Chairman because I believe my record of results and commitment to conservative principles can help reform, restore and renew the Republican Party to prominence.
Mike Duncan: We need a chairman who understands the institution of the party, and puts the reputation of the institution ahead of his own personal agenda. I believe the programs I have described make clear my belief in a team approach, with a Chairman promoting the message and protecting the integrity the institution while at the same time appreciating our future success depends on the involvement of RNC Members, Republican surrogates, and conservative organizations.
More than two hundred years ago, our founding fathers recognized that no one individual possessed the skills necessary for their success. Rather, they knew that they needed the skills of many people to establish our democracy. Similarly, the RNC needs the participation of all of our fellow RNC Members to be successful. That is why I have called for the RNC to return to being a Member driven Committee. We have countless skills and talents on our Committee and our cause is too important for any of us to sit on the sidelines.
John “Chip” Saltsman: I believe that the RNC needs a strong and capable team behind a strong chairman. I also know the most important component of this team will be the 168 committee members who will choose the Chairman and hold him or her accountable.
Michael Steele: Even the most venerable of institutions can become lethargic, intransigent, and overly impressed with itself. With as much work as we have ahead of us, we cannot afford to be any of the above! I propose that the most effective RNC would be one that views itself and organizes itself as a conduit for action, knowledge, and resources. Designed to support Republican candidates and activists in all 50 states, the RNC I seek to lead would work as a team in order to harvest the very best ideas and the brightest talent from across the nation. But let me be clear, my expectation of the membership as their Chairman is that they be prepared to roll up their sleeves and work to strengthen and expand this Movement. This great work of ours will be difficult. It will be frustrating. And it will require 21st Century leadership.
37.What are you personally doing now to help Saxby Chambliss win re-election in Georgia?
Saul Anuzis: We have deployed over a dozen staff from Michigan to travel to Georgia to assist in the Chambliss runoff.
I personally sent a letter to all our major donors asking for direct contributions to the Chambliss effort.
We have urged our congressional district and county organizations and others to either send additional volunteers to GA and/or make volunteer calls from here.I also made a personal contribution to the Senator’s efforts.
Ken Blackwell: I entered the race for chairman after Saxby’s election and am filling out this form after his election.
Katon Dawson: See above.
Mike Duncan: The RNC’s role in US Senator Chambliss’ run off election was crucial, and acknowledged as such by Senator Chambliss himself. We literally hit the ground running in Georgia, supplying manpower, technology and financial resources across the entire state when other organizations could not. I personally spent time in Georgia, working with volunteers and campaigning with Senator Chambliss. Our effort in Georgia proved that we still know how to win elections, and was the first shot fired in the 2010 campaign cycle.
John “Chip” Saltsman: As Georgia’s committee members can testify, I was actively engaged in important voter mobilization efforts to help Senator Chambliss secure his decisive victory in the run off with Jim Martin.
Michael Steele: Saxby Chambliss is a wonderful example of a Senator who represents and fights for the values and real time concerns of his constituency. To support his reelection campaign I focused on getting that message out to the real voters of Georgia both in national but, more importantly, in local media. As a party we need to focus on the people who live and work in our districts. We need to speak to them directly and we need to facilitate their grassroots and turnout. This was a message that aligned to the Senator’s strategy and helped Republicans bring a strong senator back to Washington for 6 more years.