Re: [prezveepsenator] GOP turns anger on campaign committee
- Good post, Greg... I found it interesting that there
was no mention among the grumbling of personal
responsibility of candidates for nearly unprecedented
corruption and ineffectiveness.
--- Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...> wrote:
>=== message truncated ===
> GOP turns anger on campaign committee
> By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
> Sat Dec 23, 10:43 PM ET
> WASHINGTON - Narrowly defeated in his bid for a
> term, Montana Sen. Conrad Burns (news, bio, voting
> record) turned his anger on the National Republican
> Senatorial Committee and commercials it had run
> before the election.
> "The ads hurt me more than they helped. I wouldn't
> have spent the money," he said, his comments
> characteristic of the season of second-guessing now
> unfolding among Republicans.
> President Bush's low approval ratings, the unpopular
> war on Iraq, voter concern about corruption and
> Democratic fundraising all figured in the GOP loss
> Senate control in last month's elections. But among
> Republicans, long-hidden tensions are spilling into
> view, with numerous critics venting their anger at
> GOP Senate campaign committee headed by North
> Sen. Elizabeth Dole.
> In recent interviews, officials said Senate Majority
> Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., as well as Ken Mehlman,
> the party chairman, set up outside checks on the
> committee at critical points in the campaign.
> As early as last summer, Mehlman signaled he lacked
> full confidence in Dole's committee. In an
> unprecedented move, he set up an independent entity
> control more than $12 million that the
> Republican National Committee spent for television
> advertising in Ohio, Tennessee and Missouri.
> Aides at both party committees insisted at the time
> the decision was a joint one. But Mehlman privately
> told associates he was frustrated with the Senate
> campaign committee. His actions contrasted sharply
> with the battle for control of the House, where the
> RNC contributed funds to an existing campaign
> organization rather than create its own.
> Frist also wanted an outside check. In an unusual
> move, he hired a polling firm, The Winston Group,
> shortly before Labor Day to conduct surveys in six
> important races.
> Based on the results, officials said Frist stepped
> to help overhaul Bob Corker's struggling campaign in
> his home state of Tennessee. Corker ended up beating
> Democrat Harold Ford Jr. Frist also pushed for a
> resumption of party-paid advertising in Montana and
> questioned plans for a multimillion-dollar
> in New Jersey.
> Final fundraising figures show Dole's committee
> $30 million less than the Democratic counterpart
> headed by Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting
> record) of New York. Given the disparity, several
> Republican strategists questioned the decision to
> spend more than $4 million last fall in New Jersey
> $800,000 in Michigan in an unsuccessful attempt to
> find a weak spot in the Democratic lineup. Democrats
> won both races by relatively comfortable margins.
> At the same time, more than a dozen party officials
> and strategists criticized the steps the committee
> took or did not take in Montana and Virginia in
> the campaign's final weeks.
> Burns and Sen. George Allen (news, bio, voting
> lost exceedingly close races the margin of defeat
> fraction of a percentage point. A victory in either
> one would have left the Senate tied at 50-50, giving
> Republicans control on Vice President Cheney's
> to break tie votes.
> Two more weeks of ads in Montana might have made a
> difference, said one of many Republicans who
> anger that Dole's committee aired no television
> advertisements in Burns' behalf for between Labor
> and Halloween.
> In Virginia, Allen and the Senate campaign committee
> combined were outspent on television advertising in
> each of the last five weeks by challenger Jim Webb
> the Democratic campaign committee, according to
> internal GOP figures. The gap exceeded $700,000 in
> final seven days.
> Numerous Republicans also have displayed anger at
> for the party's election losses, in particular his
> decision to wait until after the election to replace
> Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary.
> "If Rumsfeld had been out, you bet it would have
> a difference," said Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio,
> voting record), R-Pa., who was not on the ballot but
> lost some of his power nonetheless. "I'd still be
> chairman of the Judiciary Committee."
> The prospect of presidential visits sparked debate
> within campaigns.
> At one point, officials said, White House aides
> Bush to make a late-campaign trip to Missouri. NRSC
> strategists were opposed, fearing the impact of his
> low approval ratings. Ultimately, Sen. Jim Talent
> (news, bio, voting record)'s campaign aides decided
> the president should go to strongly Republican
> but not Kansas City or St. Louis, where surveys
> the president was particularly unpopular.
> Some Republicans, including at the Senate campaign
> committee, complain that the White House and the RNC
> were urging candidates to use the fight against
> terrorism as a campaign issue, but offered no advice
> on combating voter anger on the war in Iraq an
> that one official referred to as the "800-pound
> elephant in the room."
> Also, NRSC officials said the White House and RNC
> recommended the late-campaign investment in new
> and Michigan.
> None of the NRSC's critics agreed to place their
> on the record. All spoke on condition of anonymity,
> saying they did not want to contribute to intraparty
> Dole is recovering from hip replacement surgery and
> was not available to comment. But Mehlman and others
> stepped forward to defend her tenure.
> "I think Senator Dole did a fine job under extremely
> difficult conditions, probably the toughest election
> environment for Republicans since 1974," said Sen.
> Mitch McConnell (news, bio, voting record) of
> Kentucky, the incoming Senate GOP leader.
> Mark Stephens, the committee's executive director,
> strongly defended its work. He said it was the only
> GOP entity to increase fundraising from 2004, and
> Burns and Allen both of whom were plagued by
> self-inflicted political wounds probably would
> lost by larger margins without its support.
> Without the committee's efforts, he said, "I think
> could have been a lot worse than 49 seats," pointing
> to Republican victories in Tennessee and Arizona.
> But in the current postelection environment, nothing
> escapes notice.
> Numerous Republicans expressed anger that a top aide
> at the Senate campaign committee, political director
> Blaise Hazelwood, was allowed to devote some of her
> time to a business she owns.
> Hazelwood declined comment, but Stephens defended
> arrangement. "At no time did anybody else's business
> interfere with their work here," he said, adding he
> would have stepped if had it been otherwise.
> Burns, a three-term senator who was under constant
> attack for ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff,
> and the NRSC aired no television commercials in