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What The GOP Cannot Have Is A Failure To Communicate

Monday, February 1, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My Washington Examiner column from this morning summarizes my remarks to the House GOP retreat from Saturday morning.

I complimented the Congressmen, and especially Mike Pence, for effectively engaging with the president. The display of the detailed GOP proposals was the image that won the exchange, but between now and November, the GOP will need many more such days. The message discipline from top to bottom has to increase dramatically, and the leading GOP lights have to be as on point as John Boehner was on today’s Meet The Press. (“And the American people are saying ‘No! Stop!'”)

New opportunities and new settings have to be found to keep the focus on (1) the president’s fecklessness on the fiscal crisis we are entering (2) the president’s irresponsible, unconscionable and incoherent decisions on the trial of KSM and the Mirandizing of Abdulmutallab, and (3) the president’s refusal to take immediate and obvious steps to save and return jobs killed by the federal government in places like the California’s Central Valley where the federal Endangered Species Act has cost tens of thousands of jobs and because of absurd federal legislation like the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of 2008 which has cost hundreds of millions of dollars and untold jobs in the 18 months of its crazy operation. On jobs, the GOP must stress that the federal government’s first task is to do no harm, and it is doing a lot of harm in places like Fresno and with laws like CPSIA.

The GOP has to have its numbers locked down –the budget deficit in 2007 was $161 billion and it is going to be $1.35 trillion in 2010– and it has to have stories of what the president could have done, but hasn’t. Th epresident talks and talks and talks, but what he needs to do is cut and cut and cut. Right now.

Mostly Congressional Republicans need to remind people that Democrats control everything and could undertake entitlement reform and budget cutting right now, with strong Republican support, but are not doing so, even as the possibility of a currency crisis becomes more real every day. The Democrats could turn on the water in California. The Democrats could fix CPSIA. The Democrats could design and pass tort reform. They are choosing not to do so. Nixon went to China, but Obama is refusing to take on the deficit, the trial lawyers, or the ACLU.

I also spoke about how the party has to understand that sending money has become the same thing as sending a message, and that thousands and thousands of small donors stand ready to message the White House via high profile appeals for contributions of $10, $20 and $100. The massive flood of contributions to Scott Brown demonstrated that when individuals understand themselves to be sending a strong message via a contribution, they will gladly do so.

An example of how to turn sending money into sending a message. I’d like to see three very different GOP Senate candidates —Mark Kirk running in Illinois, Jane Norton in Colorado, and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey — traveling across the country together as a team and asking for contributions that would be divided among the three. Kirk is a “moderate,” Norton “center-right,” and Toomey a “conservative.” If these three hit the road together with all of them pledged to (1) the defeat of anything like Obamacare (2) significant deficit reduction and rolling back the president’s enormous increase in the size of government, and (3) seriousness on the treatment of KSM/Abdulmuttallab, the message of unity on the core agenda within the Republican Big Tent would be effectively delivered and the contributions would flow in. If this trio held a series of townhall events, they could invite the public and the MSM to hear the core message of the fall campaign introduced now. Add in Scott Brown and Sarah Palin to the tour and every auditorium would be full. This isn’t the way the GOP has done it in the past, but when the grassroots are with you and fired up, throw the playbook out and start netting up the activists and filling up the coffers.

How much enthusiasm would be gained and channelled if Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney and John Thune were to campaign together across the country in the cause of fiscal sanity over the next few months? This trio will start debating each other in early 2011 for the right to lead the party against the president in 2012, but now is the time for them to work together to focus the country on the issues above.

If the GOP embraces the view that every day in the next nine months matters as much as the nine days before November 2, anything is possible when next the country votes.

But everyone has to focus and everyone has to work as though the country’s future is on the line.

And it is.

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