Modernize, don’t moderate the GOP
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new Republican National Committee panel charged with suggesting ways to retool the branding of the party’s message will not in any way shape or do anything to tamper with the conservatism within that message, GOP leaders insist.
As members of the Republican National Committee arrived at the Westin Hotel Thursday for their winter meeting, there was considerable discussion of the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project. Created after the November elections, this new committee will examine how the party can reach out to voting blocs it has not fared well with in recent yeas and how to better market its agenda.
But perhaps to assuage some RNC members who fear that such talk of “outreach” and “messaging” is code for watering down the conservative brand of the contemporary Republican Party, several party leaders made it clear to us this would not occur with the Growth and Opportunity Project.
“We may change the way we say things, but we certainly won’t change any of our principle,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told Human Events. “Look, we had the most conservative platform ever last year. There is nothing [the new committee] will do to change that.”
Priebus’s remarks were strongly seconded by one of the five co-chairmen of the Growth and Opportunity Project, Mississippi’s Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour.
“Our committee has been listening to people and has so far found no one who wants us to move away from conservative [issue] positions,” said Barbour, nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. “The Republican Party is a conservative party and the Democratic Party is a liberal party and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Along with Barbour, the four other co-chairman of Growth and Opportunity are Zori Fonalledas, National Committeewoman from Puerto Rico; Glenn McCall, National Committeeman from South Carolina; Sally Bradshaw, veteran political strategist and close adviser to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary.
The eight areas dealt with by Growth and Opportunity’s subcommittees are 1) campaign mechanics and ground game; 2) messaging; 3) fundraising; 4) demographic partners and allies; 5) third party groups; 6) campaign finance issues; 7) presidential primaries; and 8) lessons learned from Democratic campaign tactics.
“We’ve talked to more than 2,000 people so far and our outreach includes listening to young people, blacks, Hispanics—and that means Cubans-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Mexican Americans—Asian-Americans, and women,” said one RNC official working closely with Growth and Opportunity. “But we’re also taking a good look at the idea of dealing with coalitions as opposed to hiring consultants and the convention process itself. We’re looking at better get-out-the vote mechanisms.”
“Everything is going to be reviewed,” the same official told us, but quickly added, “except our conservative message. We take our lead from [House Republican Conference Chairman] Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who said ‘the Republican Party needs to modernize, but not moderate.’”