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Pat Caddell: The Summer is Over, the Harvest is Done and We are Not Saved

Written by Pat Caddell

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Pat Caddell at Restoration Weekend
(Editors Note: Some subtitles have been added)

I’m going to first of all say Michael Reagan saved me a lot of time by making the case about inclusion. He said what everyone should hear. And I want to remind you, one of the reasons that Ronald Reagan was so successful was because he had once been a Democrat. And he knew the people to whom he was speaking, and he knew how to speak to them. And as Michael said, he spoke to the ordinary man, a common man to that voice.  And that is a quality that I think has been missing for a long time in the search for alternative candidates.

We Dont Just Move On: This is a time for a real assessment and recriminationPat_Caddell_Restoration_Weekend

I want to start with my theme by referring to the Bible, from Joel — the summer’s over, the harvest is done, and we are not saved. And it is about the issue here, first of all, about that- I’m here in a kind of Jeremiah role, I suppose — my best role. I’m not for moving on — there’s a time for a real assessment and recrimination, but really to understand why what happened happens. And it was this last week.

And I want to start because I’m not going to tell you anything today from hindsight. I’m going to tell you everything I speak about I spoke about for the last year and a half. And very few people listened. There are people here who did listen and who were helpful. And I’m going to try not to spend a lot of time on the numbers. Because I have a few of those, but we have — Michael Barone’s here. And my God, I live in his shadow when it comes to numbers, which is pretty amazing, coming from me.

But I want to start by reminding you of what I said last year. And we’re going to try to see if we can’t synch this. Rob and I have been working on this. But God knows, you know me and technology — which is, there are three very brief moments from my talk last year that I think resonate and begin the basis of what I just want to say today.

Video clip of last year’s speech at Restoration:

There is No Narrative Against Obama, No Challenges to Him

He was willing to do that. And that is one of the principal arguments that you can make against him. And by the way, let me just say this — you’re well on your way to next year coming here to celebrate Obama’s victory. Because your party is so stupid, it is beyond belief.

My party may be corrupt. So is yours; we’re just more corrupt. And we’re sometimes stupid, but not that stupid. The failure to have — you saw those numbers that John just put up, showing Obama closing from August. You know why? Because there is no narrative against him. There is no set of cases or challenges to him and to the Democrats since August, since the Republicans became paralyzed in Congress.

End of clip.

Okay, and we’re to move on. But I want to say, I hate being prophetic, but I needed to say this. This was the reason and the rationale, when I use the word “narrative,” which is storytelling, which is the — well, I guess we’re getting to the next; it’s a very short cut.  And Rob will play it when he gets it. But this is the theme. And I said what needed to be done — how, a year later, I can come and tell you, as I predicted, it was not done.  A lot of other things were, but that was not.

Second clip playing:

Vote of no confidence.  Forty percent, a vote of confidence; 56 percent, no confidence.  That is the question — if you can have it as a referendum.  However, this is a failure.

And right now, I want to say something, and this is very important to me.  And then I won’t say anything more.  I came here a year ago.  And it was here, at this conference, that it dawned on me that there had to be a narrative against Barack Obama.  And it had to be done in 2011 and early 2012 — that the election would be defined long before, you know, Karl Rove and all of his people come up with all the hundreds of millions of dollars they plan to spend in the fall. 

I can tell you, because there are rumors I had a little bit to do with it — in Wisconsin.

End of clip.

That’s it, that’s fine, we’ll stop.  That’s about Wisconsin.  And then, there’s one last, which sums up my frustration.  I ended my thing talking about my grandchildren, and why I was in this fight, because I didn’t know what I would say to them when they reach majority, and they turn to me and say: “Dada, how did you let all this happen?”  And that’s why I feel so strongly about what I want to say today about what did happen.  And can we get the last piece of that up, Rob?  And it’s 10, 15 seconds, but it’ll cap this.

Third clip begins:

The difference is the day’s going to come — and I don’t say — because you people are wonderful — but I am really, really telling you I’ve reached a year of this process, because time is running out.  This election will be won by May, or it will be lost.  And right now, it will be lost.

End of clip.

Well, that prediction was true.  And all the campaign you saw reflected that.

First of all, let me just quickly run through a couple things about the election itself.  It reminds me in many ways what we experienced in 1948 — an incumbent who no one believed could be reelected, and Republicans having just won, for the first time since ’32, the House and the Senate, backed by large margins.  And everyone thought that the man on the wedding cake, Tom Dewey, was just going to roll right into the White House.

And I can’t help but think, on Election Night, that metaphor came back to me — that Romney was like the man on the wedding cake, in terms of that.  And what Obama had done, when you looked at the results, was do what Truman did, which was reinvigorate the New Deal.  He went out and got his base to vote.  They had worked on it and made it an election about identity, and essentially won that campaign that no one thought could be won.

There are a few other numbers I think we ought to just take a reference to.  As I said, I’m not going to — because I know others will talk about them.  The turnout was down, we think — we don’t know exactly now how much, because they’re still counting votes.  But look, it is — the Obama vote is down, the McCain vote was about the same.

Identity Politics Won the Day for Obama and the Democrats

But more importantly, in the swing states, The Wall Street Journal showed, in those counties where Democrats won, the key swing counties, the turnout was uniformly up.  The Republican turnout was a little bit up.  And in the swings, it was pretty even.  In those counties it is a testimony to the years of investment in what the Obama campaign understood.  They would make this about identity politics, and that hope and change would be a campaign that would turn into what I wrote in The Wall Street Journal — divide and conquer.  And they did.

And the Republican Party, to a great extent, played into this.  It played into it because it did not have a bigger message.  This campaign was not simply a failure of mechanics; it was a failure of message.  But most of all, it was a failure of imagination.

And that is what would’ve turned this election.  I said from the beginning that this was Romney’s election to lose.  And I said for months on Fox — my God, he’s losing it.  You have 90 great minutes, 90 brilliant minutes of debate, surrounded by months of what I’ve described as the single-worst campaign in the history of modern politics of a challenger who had a chance to win in presidential politics.  And that is just the truth.

And nothing will take away from that.  I saw where — let me just give you a couple things — I could tell you, election — this whole thing — first of all, I know a lot of you worried about fraud and corruption.  Believe me, there was a good dose of fraud and corruption.  Just run out to St. Lucie County, where they had 141 percent ballots for people who voted, compared to people who voted.  And yes, in Pennsylvania and in Cleveland, you had precincts that were suspect.  By the way, as of last Monday, six days after the election, there were still two dozen precincts in Philadelphia that hadn’t reported yet, which is unusual.

But whatever you want to say, as I had said, the election was moving into the margin of corruption on Monday.  But let me tell you something — that’s not what lost this election.  And to fall back on that alone is once again to deceive yourselves.  This should not have even been a close election.

The Engineering of an Election

Let me tell you about the depression of the electorate.  This electorate — everyone’s talking about this massive change in the electorate.  Oh, no, no, no — it’s a massive change of those who came out.  This election was, in a sense, engineered.  And there’s one number — the most critical number in the exit poll that is on ideology.

Now, we live in a country where every poll by anybody shows that about 40 to 45 percent of the country is conservative, and about 20 percent or less is liberal.  The conservative margin, conservative over liberal, is on average 20 to 25 points.  On Election Day — and this, according to the exit polls — and I have some problems with them, but I won’t get into that, because they’ve been massaged so much — but this electorate was 25 percent liberal and 35 percent conservative.  A 20- to 25-point margin was half.  If I’d seen those numbers going in, I knew — because moderates, of 40 percent — unfortunately, they tend to be in the middle but lean toward the liberal side of the boat, and Obama carried them by about 15 points.

The other thing was that the same electorate produced a six percent democratic margin.  And I kept saying on Fox, if those polls that are showing this to be a party differential of six points are right, then Obama will be reelected, it’s that simple.

There’s another number I want to point to that I said all along in the campaign was most important.  And that is why I made the case about the need for a narrative.  And I wrote something a few months ago following on this argument about this process we had with a project, which I talked to you all about, called Real Leader.  And it was about the notion that Obama — I said that, you know, if Obama gets near 50 percent by the end of the election in approval rating, there’s an 80 percent chance that he will win.  If he is at 47 percent or less, or at 45 percent, he has a 30 percent chance historically.  That’s why I believed that you had to, as I said — the onion — layer off and deepen these things with the very people who he would appeal to at the end.

I want to tell you about an election, though — what’s interesting beyond that.  With such a liberal — relatively liberal election, which explains a lot of these initiatives and stuff that passed — and also — but there were two things, there were two issues that appeared in the poll that I had argued over and over and over needed to be emphasized and were not.  On the issue of healthcare, whether it should be expanded or kept as it is, there was about 44 percent.  And those who believed that it should be repealed in part or whole was 51 percent.

That issue of Obamacare, which had elected the Republicans in 2010 and was abandoned by the Republican establishment in Washington. The House of Representatives, which went through a perfunctory vote on repeal, and I wrote a long piece in Breitbart in the summer (Taxes and Trust - The Achilles Heels of Obamacare and ObamaPart I and Part II), after the great decision by Judge Roberts — you know, you people are welcome to whoever you want, but my God — on the healthcare.  But he did leave a weapon on the table, which was the taxes, the lies that had been told about taxes — what I call the 16,000 new IRS agents.  That’s how many will be hired in the budget — 16,000. 

That’s the size of the United States Heavy Armored division.  And all I could see was a spot with robots, with IRS agents being printed off presses.

Critical Issue of Obamacare Abandoned by Romney and the Republican Party

The issue of raising Obamacare showed up in this poll as one of the issues that the Republicans would’ve won on, but it was abandoned by Romney and was abandoned by the Republican Party from the word go.  Now, if somebody — I’ve never been able to get an answer, starting with — as Erick Erickson had written and I mentioned last year — how the Republicans — one of the first acts when they got elected was to go in and vote to expand Obamacare to veterinarians.

The second thing was on the issue about branding.  The Republican Party’s brand is deeply damaged, which I’ll talk about for a second.  But there is, on the fundamental branding concept — what is the election about?  Elections are started by definition.  Definitions are established in an equation — what’s important to you to vote?

This summer, earlier this year, I argued — Dick Morris argued the same thing — that if you looked at the question, no matter how you looked at it, whether government should do more or do less — or, as Gallup put it in August, give people a hand, or get out of the way — the margins ran between 15 and 21 points on the idea that we should have less government and they should get out of the way.  Even in this poll, on this election sample of people who were as liberal and as Democratic as we saw, the margin was still 10 points for a government that would do less; was doing too many things that it shouldn’t be doing.

Republcans Have Lost their Brand Identity

But did the Republicans have a national campaign that branded themselves, that said here are your choices, set forth to people?  If you believe in more deficit spending, this is what you do; if you believe in less government — no, they never attempted to put a frame around a national election.  Because your  the people who run the messaging in the Republican Party and their consultants absolutely refused to do it, even when it was argued that they should.  And even on that question of the government should do less, a quarter of those people voted for Obama, which shows you how effective it was as a decisive measurement.

On the economy, I can just tell you this — among people — the 38 percent who said — when asked — which of the economic problems is hurting people or affecting people like you; the 38 percent that said they were most worried about unemployment gave Barack Obama a 10-point margin.  We had an election that occurred with these numbers — 7.9 percent unemployment, real unemployment at 15 percent, $5,000 roughly less income for people, a growth rate at 1 percent, and the national debt at $16 trillion.  But we did not have an effort to have a factual campaign.  We gave people messages in bits and pieces, and the Romney Campaign did none of that.

And then finally, the one — and I’ll start with this for the Romney Campaign — Romney won — asked which four values were most important — which you thought were most important to you in your vote — those who said shared values, which was about a quarter — they voted for Mitt Romney by 13 points.  Those who said they wanted strong leadership, was 18 percent — Romney won by 61 to 38. 

Real leadership was the issue we identified in the project I talked to you last year about, Real Leader, which was a real weakness of Obama.  But only 18 percent said that was most important.  And on those who thought about vision for the future, Romney actually won that by about eight points that quarter.

But one fifth of the people said the most important thing was: Cares about people like me.  And Obama won those voters 82 to 17.  Back to Michael Reagan’s point, back to everything — you have to have some connection with people, and we didn’t.

And I won’t go through the rest of the numbers about how rich Romney was, about he wants the rich people; and Obama’s for the middle class.  Because that issue was established in the campaign and could’ve been thwarted.

My concern is when you look at the Romney Campaign — I want to speak about several failures of that.  And then I want to talk about the Republicans as, I think, a de facto weak party at the moment, and how you get out of this.

The Flaw: The Economy Issue will Decide the Election in Favor of the Republicans

But first of all, in the strategic — first of all, there was a major strategic flaw in the Republican campaign with Romney.  And that was — we don’t have to do anything; he will be defeated because of the economy.  That campaign strategy by the Romney Campaign evolved — which meant they ran no positives, they had nothing biographical till the Convention, they had nothing going on early about the Olympics — which even President Obama said was a great issue for Romney, and how he admired him, just two days ago or yesterday — two days ago.  There was no effort to show how Bain had worked in a positive.  He had already had a campaign against Teddy Kennedy.  You knew what the Obama Campaign was going to come at.  Don’t you think you would want to tell people something positive?

But his campaign and all Republican campaigns have been based on one single concept — negativity.  If we attack enough, we win.  Ask the French Army — look at your history in 1914, how that worked, charging manned trenches, and continuing to go out over and over and over.

So that’s strategic failure by a campaign staff of consultants.  And no presidential campaign should be run by consultants; they should be run by people who are committed to the candidate, not into making big money.  The one area of spending that the Romney Campaign exceeded — had the higher percentage than the Obama Campaign — was in payment of consultants.

Another issue was the choice — and some of you are not going to like this — of Paul Ryan.  But before I get to Paul Ryan, I want to say what no one has yet said.  The Romney Campaign’s excuse for losing is that in the spring they were wiped out and over-inundated with negative advertising.  And they couldn’t spend money, because the money they had raised they couldn’t spend yet, and nobody could really defend them adequately.  The super-PACs were on the attack.

You know what the question is?  The question is just the dog that isn’t barking here.  In 2008, Mitt Romney spent $42 million, which in inflationary terms is at least $50 million, to lose in ’08.  Why didn’t he write a check?  Why didn’t he write a check for the $50 million or $60 million to fill that gap in the spring, or at least loan his campaign the money?  And no one’s asked the question, and I haven’t heard an answer.

I don’t understand Romney, and I don’t understand this way.  And I don’t mean to — I don’t know the man.  But you know, if you know you’re going to run for President and you don’t clean up your tax returns, so you’re not on Cayman Islands, and you don’t have bank accounts in Switzerland — I mean, you don’t have to be a genius to know what you don’t want to have in a campaign three, four years later.

He seemed to be — he lived his life oblivious to the fact that he would be a presidential candidate.  If he became the presidential candidate of the swells, he helped make that image possible.  And boy, did the Obama Campaign go after that.

And I want to just mention Paul Ryan.  Paul Ryan, I know, has many fans in this room.  But I said at the time I didn’t agree with that choice.  The issue that was hurting Republicans with Democrats was Medicare, the effort of Republicans — the fear in the DNA of Democratic voters and independents that Republicans really want to kill Medicare.  You saw races which were lost, congressional special elections, lost on that.  It’s all the Democrats ran on in the House this year.

But also, I believe, as Michael Reagan was saying, the need for a gesture of outreach — Marco Rubio — let me tell you something — you saw his speech at the Convention, which was the best speech.  I said he ought to — that was a no-brainer.  You take someone who at least — maybe he’s not going to deliver a majority or 45 percent of the Hispanic, but it would’ve been a gesture of outreach.  It would’ve said something.  And it would’ve certainly delivered Florida.  He wouldn’t have to spend all this money doing that.

But I want to go back to what I think was the other fundamental problem, other than the ad spending and the terrible communication strategy of that campaign.  And that is after the first debate, when Mitt Romney got a chance and had the campaign right before him.  But instead of building on that, the Romney Campaign made a fundamental error of their own choosing, which was to abandon any offensive efforts.  They would now simply hold the ball.

The disaster of the third debate, which I said — the minute the third debate was over, the minute it was over — that when you did not answer Libya — the issue of Libya — and I’ve spoken to it on the air — because it is the greatest cover-up since Watergate in American history — when you don’t challenge the President — you didn’t have to make yourself a warmonger or whatever; you just needed to go out and say — Mr. President, you tell them.  But let me tell you one thing to the audience I would’ve said — I said it that night.  I would’ve said — one thing is, if I’m elected President, four Americans are killed, I will not be at a fundraiser in Los Vegas the next day.

That would’ve been something.  He wouldn’t even say that.  They thought — oh, we’ve won.  Let me tell you about presidential politics — he who goes on the defensive always loses.  Look what happened to Obama in the first debate.  I’m going to go out there, and get this over with.  This was a disaster.  Because let me tell you what it did — it meant the mainstream media, the third player in this field, in this election, didn’t have to cover it.  If Romney wouldn’t mention it, they didn’t have to speak to it.  And that was a particular crisis problem, because that would’ve helped offset whatever positive thing the President was getting on Sandy.

Foreign policy — I had said to you before — and last year Don McLaughlin and I talked about national security, and how it affected women, particularly terrorism — Gallup has a poll yesterday showing 79 percent of people — third most important thing people think the President needs to do is keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon.  But Republicans wouldn’t take this issue and use it.

And you have people who are going to speak about foreign policy.  Brooke Goldstein will be here; she deals with the Muslim campaign against us — Muslim extremists, Islamic extremists — about using the law against us.  And I think the campaign there — this whole issue of foreign policy — I said the economy is the most important issue, but the tipping point could be foreign policy.  And lo and behold, here comes Libya.

But you know what it really was for Obama?  It wasn’t about foreign policy; it was about transparency, honesty and his leadership.  That was what that issue was about, not that it would supplant the economy.

Lack of Vision

The other thing is the lack of proposal, the lack of a vision; all of those things.  But a lot of this goes back to the mindset of the Republican establishment — I call, in the political establishment, your lobbyist — you consultant lobbyist establishment group, which is basically — which is a complex I’ve called the consultant lobbyists in establishment complex, which is all about self-arrangements and making money for themselves, and how do they do it.  And the one thing they don’t want to hear is from anyone from the outside, or someone who brings a different view.

But the Republicans themselves held the ball.  The budget deal in December of 2010, when they gave Obama a second stimulus in return for not raising tax on rich — all he had to do, having won election, was simply say, as I said a year ago — was simply get up and say — unh-uh, you want to raise taxes, you do it.  He would’ve folded, as he did.  But they gave him that, Defense of Marriage Act; they gave him everything.

August 2011, that catastrophe which we now call sequestering — Obama was a dead man in August of ’11 because of his lack of leadership.  The Senate — you know, you look at the Senate race — this is not just a problem with Romney.  When you look at the Senate races, and the other races, there is — only one person was elected statewide in a state carried by Obama who was a Republican.  And that was Heller, in Nevada.  And he was elected by about one percent of the vote.  And that’s because his opponent was so bad, a bunch of Obama voters voted for the third-party candidate, or didn’t vote for him.

We had 11 swing states in this election — one went for Romney; 11 of them went to Obama.  You had 10 Senate races, 10 Senate races, that were competitive.  In a class — there were 33 senators, 23 Democrats, a dozen — 10 to 12 — a dozen Democrats were vulnerable.  You get 10 of them.  And the Republicans won one, and the Democrats won nine.  This thing goes on and on and on.  Except in the House, because of reapportionment.  But the Republicans in the House — I think Michael Barone will attest to this — got about the same vote as Romney got as President.  So reapportionment, while it hurt in Illinois and California, helped there.

But I want to go back to the fact that Mitch McConnell told someone — who’s spoken to this group, who is a member of the Senate, I will not name — that their campaign strategy — he told me this months ago — the campaign strategy was simple — we won’t say anything, we’re going to keep our heads down, and we’ll win because the numbers are on our side.

That was why the Republicans — you see the Senate?  And by the way, Republicans lost states where Romney — in North Dakota, in Montana, was carrying well in the double digits.  Now, of course, you had Akin and Mourdock, the candidates, which I do not understand — if you want to believe — if you want to compel the country, but your views on rape are that — God’s will that you should do this — then, you know what, lead a religious crusade.  You don’t belong in secular politics, and throwing Senate seats away the way they’re thrown away.

I believe in the division of church and state, in the sense that we should keep — those people who feel that strongly, let them have a religious revival.  We don’t need to throw away Senate seats and so forth on those things.

Until the Republicans Start Challenging the Media, They're Toast

But I want to now go to my last point, which is — two quick things.  One is the media.  You know, until Republicans start challenging the media, you cannot have three teams on the field, one of them being the mainstream media, tackling and stacking the Republican candidate, and tackling his runners and supporters.

And then, let me just — a word just quickly about bipartisan deals.  What is it about Republicans, when they get in deals like California redistricting — it becomes bipartisan and gets controlled by Democrats; you lose four seats?  Or more importantly, the great debate commission, which ends up with debate moderators, most of them — Candy Crowley?  How is it you always get rolled in these things?  It’s a question you should ask. Yes, Candy Crowley, as I said, the single-worst debate moderator in American history.

I want to make a comment about, just quickly, the media.  Look, I’ve said in a speech, they are the enemy of the people, and they have become a fundamental threat to American democracy.  Their failure to cover Libya, the failure to tell us the truth, really terrifies me.  But until you begin to challenge, and not whining — challenge them because they do not do their duty for the American people — where 60 percent of the people in the Gallup poll say they believe that that is the case — then they will continue to kill you.  How can you let someone on the field who’s attacking you, and you give de facto credibility by not saying anything about them?  I do not understand that.

There was another effort in this campaign, and I want to tell you — which was, I believed, a different approach.  And this goes to what I call the consultant core.  And I am very harsh, critical of the hundreds of millions of dollars.  I think your donors — you donors, and the other donors, were played from Marx by groups like Crossroads and others — I’ll just be that blunt about it.  Because those are about preserving arrangements in media.

And we had a thing — one of the things I’d worked on last year — John McLaughlin and I talked — Secure America Now, a bipartisan effort to raise national security, in a way that the Obama Administration probably wouldn’t appreciate.  But an effort to raise money — you know, one of the leaders of the Republican Party went to Jewish donors and said — you shouldn’t give money to a nonpartisan group; you should have a partisan group.

Jews are 68 percent Democratic preference.  A majority of them actually preference liberal, followed by moderate.  And 70-some percent of them, or 80 percent of them, voted for Obama in ’08.  And you want to run communications that say Republican Jewish Federation?  Well, that’ll really move those voters in terms of credibility.

Again, it’s about preserving arrangements.  I think that, you know, we cannot look at this election and the lack of movement without realizing this stuff failed.

You know, companies survive — many of you are in business.  Don’t tell me that advertising doesn’t work.  It’s how you advertize, it’s how you communicate.  We in Real Leader had an approach, which is use real people.  It worked in Wisconsin.  And I want to tell you, Steve Bannon and David Bossie — David’s not here, but Steve is, Steve Bannon — did a film called “Hope and Change.”

Now, “2016″ — there was a survey by Luntz — they did a focus group.  And they pronounce overwhelmingly — there was one film that moved voters — “Hope and Change.”  Because it was real Democrats and independents talking about their disappointment with Obama.  Didn’t make donors happy.  They weren’t yelling ideological conservative points.  They talked about how Obama had failed to unite the country, how he’d failed at leadership; what their lives were like.  It was incredibly powerful.

In a focus group of 30 people who saw the film “Dreams from My Father,” which drove voters to Obama — “2016,” which was at best [day] neutral — that makes you — donors feel good, everyone felt happy in the base.  Didn’t move real voters.  Again, what is your purpose?  Is it to win, or feel good?  And then, “Hope and Change,” which we wanted to put out broader and put more money behind, and cut it into spots, and let those voices — the Luntz people said it was the best communication of the campaign.  Of the 30 people, 13 of them got up and moved from undecided to Romney in a minute, after seeing the film.  Twenty-three of them said they would probably move, or likely — they might consider moving to Romney.

But that communication didn’t fit inside what made other people wealthy or whatever, or in a mindset.  Because that was Democrats and independents speaking.

You know, there are many other issues.  But I just want to take a second — because I know we’re out of time, and I would have a lot more to say — but about engaging.  Want to pick up on Michael Reagan’s point about the need to engage.  You know, we have to do things differently.  I supported, and Dick Morris, [among others], not only a different kind of communication with real people — and I had some spots, but I’m not going to — I can’t run them, David, I don’t have time.

But I will say this — you cannot do it by simply treating the world like it’s 1492, which is — there are seven swing states — by the way, you know that Pennsylvania, which I had urged after the second debate — and several other people, and Dick Morris, and others had urged the Republicans to campaign in — do you know that it was lost by five points, with only one week really of campaign effort?  Iowa and New Hampshire were lost by six, and so was Nevada.  It was actually closer.  And yet, they’ve had almost no expenditures of effort until the very end.

And this is the kind of not thinking clearly — I think the idea of national advertising, which Obama used effectively in the Olympics — Republicans said — oh no, you can’t do that.  What do you mean?  That’s what we did for 30 years under public financing, or 20 years.  Because there wasn’t the money to spend in all these states.  You did national advertising and some state.

But this is a national election.  After the first debate, guess what?  There was so much despoiling of the Ohios and other states with media that we ended up with — they moved slower toward Romney than did all the rest of the country which had not been exposed to the campaign.

And I want to say, in criticizing these groups — that [AF team] made a difference, I thought, in a way that the others — you have to distinguish — there’s several of them that did.  But they did.  They did in Wisconsin, with our approach on the recall.  They did in August.  But I mean, there are hundreds of millions of dollars — the needle’s not moved at all.  Because we’re running commercials — the same people are all interchanged.  And it’s not filtering with new ideas.

So if you want to engage, let me tell you what’s needed.  You have to do it today, like Michael Reagan said.  The way to win the country in a polarized-identity campaign, is to win it on big ideas, and big positives.  How do we reinvigorate the country?  How do we have an economy that grows?  How do we solve, as Jim Pinkerton talks about, Alzheimer’s?  Why can’t we do things?  It’s the Teddy Roosevelt model of how you do this, and be able to make government effective.

And it’s in a positive imagination, which — what Condi Rice said at the Convention about education, when she talked about that, is the newest civil rights issue — that should be the Republican issue, right?  Because that’s against the teachers unions.

It is a matter of not getting up and saying no to everyone.  It’s about having what Michael Reagan called engaging, and what his father did, which is to be imaginative.

But in order to engage right now — and Michael Reagan said this; I’ll just reinforce — what should be going on right now is real research.  Not the kind of polling that turned up the kind of arguments it did this campaign, but something that builds toward that kind of information as we found about Obama as a leader, and the way to actually peel the onion back over time.

That requires narratives.  Not just single message.  A narrative is a story.  It comes over a period of time.  It’s what I argued for last time and a year ago and I spent a year begging your side to do — to establish narratives that talk to Democrats and independents, to those 10 million people who needed to moved, who had voted for Obama.

The third thing is you want to get into data mine — I mean, there’s this — I won’t even get into the disaster of [Turner], but you have to get into being — you know, you’ve got to look to people who understand social media.  And that may be outside the establishment, consultant ranks of the Republican Party.

But all those things need to start now.  You can’t have a command-and-control, top-down situation.  You’ve got to develop a grassroots, where these ideas and approaches can work.

Finally, when I talk about the imagination of a party

— you know, we lost Asians — Romney lost Asians by 70 percent.  I know of no group that is more entrepreneurial, harder-working and whatever.  You know why?  You know why Asians didn’t — one of the stories talked about Asians about this — because they believe Republicans don’t like minorities.  It is about creating a brand in which — from California and the Northeast, and among voters, who don’t believe Republicans care about them.

There is a larger argument here.  Because if not, we’re going to have an independent movement.  And Erick Erickson wrote it yesterday, and he can speak to his own comments.  Sorry, Andy McCarthy’s here — Erick wrote a piece on donors being stupid, which I hope he quotes from; and about Republicans playing them from Marx.  Or, he uses a different way of doing it.

But I want to tell you, it is — you know, the country — 70 percent of the country is against the political class, from left to right.  They believe that we do not have government operating with the consent of the people.  Three quarters believe that.  Eighty-some percent believe the system is rigged, either by Wall Street, the unions, special interests — that goes from left to right.

Why is the Republican Party not the anti-establishment party?  Why was Romney not the outsider?  Why wasn’t he running — defending George Bush, implicitly, as Michael said?  He should’ve said — no, no, we’ve made mistakes; I’m against that, too.  No! This is about — well, we’ll just throw this up.  As long as the establishment wants to preserve the establishment, and as long as they want to preserve their special deals, you will lose.

So that’s what I’m telling you today you have to do to change this.  And it can be done.

And as I said, most of all, it requires imagination.  Thank you.

SOURCE: FPM

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