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Salena Zito: Trump Rose as GOP Ignored Its Own Blueprint

Image: Salena Zito: Trump Rose as GOP Ignored Its Own Blueprint

By    |   Friday, 21 Oct 2016 01:36 PM

It was the autopsy report that was supposed to resurrect the Grand Old Party and keep it from losing presidential elections.

Three years ago the Republican National Committee commissioned the "Growth and Opportunity Project" to use as a blueprint to return it to the Executive Office.

The 100-page document was ambitious, blunt, comprehensive, and on point; developed following Mitt Romney's 2012 loss, to Barack Obama it outlined how the infrastructure of the national party should improve a host of processes.

From campaign messaging to fundraising and who to recruit for office, the outline that Reince Preibus and the committee he pulled together was impressive, said Chip Felkel, a South Carolina-based GOP strategist.

"It also addressed some of the serious issues and challenges the party faced," he said. "Like the perception that Republicans don't care about anyone but the corporate class, and being seen as the party of Wall Street."

It addressed how to correct the challenge of reaching and connecting with millennials and women, specifically, as well as Latino, Asian, and even African-American communities, Felkel said.

"These ideas and recommendations were spot-on. The party does need to tackle these and other problems," he said.

"Instead, by letting the primary process go the way it did, they find themselves having ignored 95 percent of what was suggested."

Enter 17 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, including sometime-Republican and full time entertainer Donald Trump, who bulldozed his way to the nomination on populist rhetoric.

"Trump has taken the party in a completely opposite direction," Felkel said. "His populism is not about the GOP, it is about him and him only."

In short, he alienated all of the key groups the GOP sought to win over, including women, Latinos, minorities, and millennials.

"With his nomination, the project was effectively shelved," said Felkel.

"The autopsy was a fantastic blueprint for what could have been," said Felkel. "However, by not recognizing, appreciating and understanding the incredible anger that conservative voters were ready to unleash, they lost the opportunity to implement it."

To totally blame Reince Preibus is unfair, said Felkel, although he anticipates that is exactly what is going to happen: "The chairman's role is hard enough ... when you throw a wild card into the mix, like Trump, and you have convinced yourself he's really just a flash in the pan, suddenly you wake up and your house is engulfed in flames, and that is where Priebus finds himself right now."

What happens in two weeks is likely to be the Republicans' third straight loss of the White House, with the likelihood that the party will be unable to execute any of the programs it worked so long to implement — and, just as likely, that it once again will go down in flames with women, minorities and millennials.

"There is no long-term future for a Republican Party that fails to shift itself to the center on both economics and values in order to better represent populist-leaning constituencies," said Baylor University political science professor Curt Nichols.

"The challenge will be in refining and expanding the populist vision in hard-to-foresee ways, in order to attract groups — such as Latinos — who are natural coalition partners in a people's party."

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It was the autopsy report that was supposed to resurrect the Grand Old Party and keep it from losing presidential elections. Three years ago the Republican National Committee commissioned the "Growth and Opportunity Project" to use as a blueprint to return it to the...
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2016-36-21
Friday, 21 Oct 2016 01:36 PM
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