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Selling the Deal

Thursday, August 4, 2011  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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“Both GOP congressional leaders emerged with enhanced reputations,” writes the Architecht in today’s Wall Street Journal, and he’s correct.

But the cause for concern for conservatives who know the country needs the GOP in control of the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2013 is that every major presidential candidate opposed the deal, and every key GOP challenger for a Senate seat currently held by a Democrat also opposed the deal.

Which means that the base of the GOP and most of the Tea Party activists hated the deal.

Paul Ryan has eloquently defended the deal at length, and I can’t imagine Ryan not being able to at least persuade critics to give the deal a second look or just to acknowledge its good parts, but while Ryan appeared on Sean Hannity’s show on Monday night, he then vanished. Eric Cantor made an appearance on Neil Cavuto’s show and then dropped from sight. The Speaker apparently gave an interview to CBS News that no one saw. In short, the House GOP isn’t selling the deal. They went into vacation mode in the crucial days when public opinion jells around an event.

It isn’t hard to figure out how to sell something. When candidates are running, they seek out earned media and make media buys to the extent their budgets allow. The debate and cajole and press the flesh because their jobs are on the line.

The House GOP leadership remains largely out of sight of their grassroots, and they certainly aren’t flooding the talk radio shows where conservative influencers and grassroots opinion-makers tune in daily.

The gap between what the GOP leadership and elites thought of the deal and what the base thought of it is in part
substance, but a large part of it is simple neglect of messaging.

My hope is that the supercommittee is appointed with the understanding that they will work in the media vineyards as well as the caucus room, using this unique opportunity to inform and educate the public not about how bad the Democrats are but about how significant the deficit and debt problems are, and how these problems cannot be solved on the back of the defense budget without endangering the United States.

It isn’t enough to win the Beltway. To win the country you have to win 50% plus 1, and that starts with the base.

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