MEMO from RNC Member Morton C.
I have mailed the below letter and list of questions to the following eight candidates and potential candidates for Chairman of the Republican National Committee: Saul Anuzis of Michigan, Tina Benkiser of Texas, Katon Dawson of South Carolina, Mike Duncan of Kentucky, Jim Greer of Florida, Chip Saltsman of Tennessee, Michael Steele of Maryland, and John Sununu of New Hampshire.
I've served on the RNC since 1988, so a lot of people have contacted me to ask whom I shall support as we hold the election of RNC chairman at our Winter Meeting.
Among those asking me are several fellow RNC members.
My answer is that I don't know yet.
About a week ago, I attended a meeting of 40 prominent
conservatives. Many of them are heads of large conservative
organizations who generally support Republican candidates. Others are
Republican Party officials.
I told them that most of those whose names are in consideration for
RNC chairman are long-standing friends of mine, and that this decision
is so important that I want to know a lot more about what each
candidate would do if elected.
They asked me to compile a list of relevant questions and to ask the
candidates and prospective candidates to answer them. I agreed to do
that. I believe that most of them will join to throw their support
behind the single candidate whose answers they like best.
Rarely do RNC meetings make an un-scripted decision, but this is a
real and important one.
So I have prepared a set of questions, all of interest to me and to many of those who have asked for my opinion.
Many of these questions, which I've rather arbitrarily split into
three groups, have never been asked before, but all of them should be
asked now -- and answered.
Please provide your answers on the sheets provided. Feel free to use
extra sheets as necessary. Then please return your answers to me in the
envelope provided by December 10.
Morton C. Blackwell
Questions for Candidates and Potential Candidates for Chairman of the Republican National Committee
from Morton C. Blackwell, 3128 North 17th Street, Arlington, VA 22201.
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?
2.When Democrats hold the White House, the RNC chairman has a
greatly increased role in advocating what the Republican Party stands
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
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
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?
4.Have you read the 2008 Republican National Platform? Do you agree
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?
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?
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?
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
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?
9.On which issues do you believe the Republican Party should be most attractive to the growing number of Americans of Asian descent?
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
18.No candidate is ever perfect, but what five or six factors do you
think are most important in evaluating a potential Republican candidate?
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?
QUESTIONS RELATING TO CONSULTANTS
20.There are natural conflicts of interest between consultants and
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
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
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?
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-commissionaable
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
What would you as RNC chairman do to warn candidates and party
committees against employing such consultants?
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?
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
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?
25.Fundraising consultants for national Republican committees
frequently send out mass mailings which include up to 40 opinion
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?
26.What political consultants are assisting you in your campaign for
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?
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
29.Some RNC chairmen over the years have been full-time chairmen.
Others have held the post and retained other political or business
If elected, would you be a full-time RNC 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?
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?
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?
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
34.What are the principal assets you would bring to the chairmanship?
35.What are your deficiencies, and how would you organize the RNC to
make up for those deficiencies?
36.Do you think we need an institutionally strong chairman, or do
you favor a team approach at the RNC?
37.What are you personally doing now to help Saxby Chambliss win
re-election in Georgia?