Tags: Viguerie | Republican | party | primary

Richard Viguerie: Conservatives Can Take Over GOP

By    |   Friday, 09 May 2014 08:02 AM

Richard Viguerie, one of the nation's senior conservative leaders, spoke recently at The Heritage Foundation about his new book, Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It.

Viguerie, who is generally credited as the pioneer of the application of scientific methods to political direct mail, noted that he is one of the three most senior conservatives, behind only Phyllis Schlafly and Lee Edwards. Some years ago this writer tracked Edwards down after a book presentation and challenged him on his touting of the success of the conservative movement. Edwards didn't argue but rather responded simply, "Maybe it's just that I'm an optimist."

Viguerie's speech was of the same ilk, and one can challenge the bases for his thesis. However, he was informative, entertaining, timely and eminently qualified to talk about the state of what might be called "the Republican wing of the Republican party." His greatest contribution might be in his estimate of the situation, which is that the Republican party is still locked in a battle for control that started a century ago when Theodore Roosevelt bolted the party to run as a "Bull Moose" against his hand-picked successor, President William Howard Taft. A chain of leaders who favored big government followed, and Viguerie listed Landon, Dewey, Nixon, Ford, Dole, McCain, Romney and the aforementioned congressional leaders. This writer would include Eisenhower and both Bushes.

Speaking of the current circumstance, Viguerie was refreshingly forthright in identifying the congressional wing of the party, specifically Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kent., House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as enemies of the conservative wing of the party. He also recalled bitterly that when President George H.W. Bush took office in 1989, he purged Reagan Republicans from the administration, regardless of whether they had supported him in the primary.

"Primary" is an important word for Viguerie, and like Kellyanne Conway, he looks to primaries to produce the new leadership the party needs. He quipped that he had supported former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. for president, not realizing that it would be president of The Heritage Foundation. Viguerie reviewed the evolution of the conservative movement by adding social and religious conservatives and later the Tea Party to the coalition the party needs in order to govern. He has some practical suggestions as to how to recruit adherents to the party; for example, by getting involved in community issues and backing ethnically diverse candidates.

Viguerie's formula for victory in 2016 is based on the unpopularity of President Obama and the energy of the Tea Party, and he insisted that it is not too late for conservatives to win both control of the party and the 2016 election. The contrarian view would be that the Tea Party's activism is likely to subtract voters from the coalition alienated by the Bush purge and "Read My Lips."

Viguerie holds out hope that the Republicans are like the Wandering Jews who after 40 years will finally find the Promised Land.

Quoting Reagan, he said that victory depends on "leadership unfettered by old ties and relationships." He is optimistic that an open Republican primary can produce a leader who fits this description.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
Richard Viguerie, one of the nation's senior conservative leaders, spoke recently at The Heritage Foundation about his new book, Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It.
Viguerie, Republican, party, primary
549
2014-02-09
Friday, 09 May 2014 08:02 AM
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