The youth vote that went overwhelmingly to Barack Obama in 2008 is up for grabs in 2014, but to claim it, Republicans must heal an age-related split within the party, a GOP strategist said Monday.
Mary Anna Mancuso spoke with Newsmax TV's Ed Berliner on "Midpoint" about the "generational divide" that she recently addressed at politicalhype.com
, a young conservatives' blog. Mancuso said the split is visible in everything from social issues to social media, and it needs to be bridged.
"There's a bit of a tug of war going on," she said, "We have the older Republicans who are trying to keep everything . . . the way that it has always worked for them.
"Then you have the younger Republicans coming in and saying, 'Hey, this is where we are. We're on social media. We're wanting to get a grassroots effort going on. Why don't you come join us? We want to talk about social issues,'" she said.
"It's time that the party kind of turns around and says, 'OK, we're going to let you into the fold and we're going to listen,'" she said.
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Mancuso, who managed social media for the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of then-Rep. Connie Mack in Florida, said young Republicans share the older generation's desire for smaller government, but see smaller government in the context of liberty.
"Why is the government weighing in on the legalization of gay marriage?" she said. "Why is the government now intruding on your privacy and tapping your phones?"
Asking those questions is "how the Republican Party is going to be able to bring in the youth vote as well as maintain the ability to keep their base energized and engaged," said Mancuso.
There are signs of progress. On the importance of social media, "The Republicans have finally woken up," said Mancuso, after a "devastating loss" in 2012 attributable in part to "the Democrats' ground game in the social media space."
One result is a GOP more committed to social media strategy. She cited a tea party favorite, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, as one example:
"He's using the hashtag "#makeDClisten.' That has just gained a lot of traction, and he's gained a lot of notoriety."
The timing for a reconciliation between younger and older Republicans is ideal, said Mancuso, with President Obama getting walloped in public opinion polls and, on some issues such as the VA hospital scandal and the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap, facing critics within his own party
Displeasure at the Bergdahl deal is a rare instance in which the administration "got both sides of the aisle to agree," she quipped.
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