The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

RNC Debate: Round I

Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 08:00 | Jan 05, 2009 21:32
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Elisa Mueller

The candidates are mostly friendly as they take their two minute introductions. Mostly. After Katon Dawson bragged that he’d turned the South Carolina GOP around, Ken Blackwell emphasized that he had won 15 elections. In Ohio. “We all know how difficult it is to win elections in that swing state of South Carolina.”

The laughter lasted for around 10 seconds.

Chip Saltsman highlighted his experience taking Tennessee away from the “blue” column in 2000; Saul Anuzis of Michigan said the party needed someone who understood how to win blue states. Mike Duncan, the embattled incumbent, said he’d already fought and survived a bruising election. “Loyalty is not a vice,” Duncan said. “We all supported George W. Bush.”

The first question: if the GOP’s the small government party, how does it fight the new Democratic hegemony. Ken Blackwell says, mysteriously, that “we have candidates who run like Jimmy Carter and govern like Jimmy Carter and candidates who run like Ronald Reagan and govern… like Jimmy Carter.” Anuzis says that the party needs to be out front in tough fights, like the fight Michigan Republicans fought to stop a tax increase. Steele suggests that the RNC “check some of that bad acting we see out there” by local officials who weren’t elected working with the national GOP.

Second question: How do you get young people involved? Saltsman bristles at the idea that young people are merely the “future” of the party. “They are not the future of the party. They are the heart and soul of this party.” When he was in high school, Ronald Reagan was president, “and we knew that we were a shining city on a hill.” Duncan suggests bringing in young people with social networking “and the twittering.”

Steele doesn’t like that. Young people need to be put “out front,” and given decisions to make and power to wield. They can’t just be displayed, like potted plants, to show how diverse the party is, “like we do with black folks and a whole lot of other people out here.”

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.

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