After what seemed like a decade of 24/7 coverage of the Republican 2012 primary process, news has come out that there are still untold stories. Apparently, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum negotiated to team up against Mitt Romney. Ok, this doesn’t sound like a one meeting kind of thing. It sounds like something that happened over a much longer period of time and something the political press, who are supposed to be “experts” would have picked up on. (And I am not talking about locals who may not cover politics all the time but the national reporters who do.)
Well, the nation was spared such a spectacularly awesome scary ticket because neither man would accept the veep slot. Phew, and the GOP thought the worst thing they had to fear last year was candidates who like to prattle on about “legitimate rape” and whatnot. (As a satire writer, I would have LOVED a GOP ticket with Newt & Santorum, LOVED IT.)
Of course, the other news that probably won’t actually come out (sorry, I cannot think of a better way to put that right now) is that Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) was NOT asked to take the veep slot for Romney because his son is gay. Portman was a Romney surrogate and the two men spent a lot of time together. The irony is he had a better shot of picking up a state with Portman than Paul Ryan. I have a hard time seeing Romney ever getting Wisconsin. Yes, I know people don’t base their pick on the VP candidate. I guess someone if picked Ted Bundy after he was convicted of being a serial killer it would have turned more than a few people off... Can you imagine the tagline for that campaign? Smith/Bundy -- because no one knows more about preventing crime than a convicted serial killer! (Ps. I am sure some people were also turned off from John McCain because of Sarah Palin but not enough to swing a state or the election. Note to any GOP readers: I am NOT implying any Republican would pick Bundy for anything, ever.)
But I digress.
The GOP has been in overdrive trying to “rebrand” themselves. I was especially impressed with their chairman, Reince Priebus, this morning. He was asked if they planned to cut Portman’s national funding off now that he has endorsed same sex marriage. “Of course not!” Priebus said with a fair amount of moral indignation because of course his decision to not defund Portman is the right thing to do based on current polling numbers that show increasing support for marriage equality.
At the Conservative Union conference last weekend, better known as CPAC, there was a session entitled “How do we look less racist?” My response to the question was “How about you just BE less racist?” My advice to the GOP is that superficial changes to messaging materials isn’t enough to convince people you care about their issues. Priebus deserves some credit for starting to reach out to groups that have not either always or recently been the GOP base.
Getting people to believe you care about the things that matters to them requires you understand what those things are. Reaching out to talk to them may not get you all the way there but it is a start. Let’s hope the change Priebus is pushing is part of a long term approach and not a policy du jour.