Grover Norquists' ATR debate for the RNC Candidates just wrapped up in D.C., and it was quite a show. Although not always a huge fan of Norquist (see http://www.michellemalkin.com/), the debate allowed many activists who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to hear from the candidates to be a part of the process.
Michael Steele, whom I supported back in '06 when Senator Mel Martinez was elected RNC Chair, did his usual impressive job. He is good on television, and he would be a good spokesman for the party. I guess I am biased because I have wanted him as RNC Chair for a while, and he has wanted the job for a while.
I also like Saul Anuzis, Michigan state party chair, who has a good Reagan Democrat appeal, coming from a blue state and always willing to speak out on issues, even to fellow RNC members, most of whom just go along to get along. Anyone who will speak out on issues has my vote!
Katon Dawson was his usual charming self, and I also like him. He works hard and seems to have a good grasp of what it will take to turn the party around.
Chip Saltsman referenced his experience as Tennessee GOP State Chair when he stood up to his own Republican Governor in fighting a state income tax. That takes guts. That is something that our Texas GOP Chair should have done when Republicans passed the disastrous business margins tax in Texas in '07. That same chairman, Tina Benkiser, is running on a slate with Ken Blackwell, and that decision should taint his candidacy.
While Ken Blackwell seems to be a conservative candidate, and he has some excellent endorsements such as Tony Perkins (by whom Blackwell has been employed), his endorsements also include James Dobson. I must confess that I am still mad at James Dobson. Dobson, as you remember, swore he would not support John McCain were he the GOP Presidential nominee. Then when McCain became the nominee, James Dobson supported him. Dobson also impugned the Christian faith of Senator Fred Thompson. I firmly believed during the primary that Fred was our best electable conservative. My strategy was to get conservatives to rally around the most electable conservative. Had we done that, we would not have had John McCain as our nominee. Others endorsing Blackwell include Phyllis Schlafly, who supported Congressman Duncan Hunter for President. I love Duncan Hunter, but he was unelectable. The problem with these conservatives, with whom I agree on the issues, is that they helped elect Barack Obama. By refusing to back an electable conservative, and trying to become "kingmakers," they sabotaged the Republican Party. With friends like them, who needs enemies? They put their own demands ahead of what is best for the country. I don't think it would be wise to have our RNC Chairman beholden to those conservatives who do more harm than good. As Chip Saltsman said in today's debate, "I have only found one politician with whom I agree 100% of the time: myself."
Mike Duncan referred to "the Twitter" and "the Facebook" that "you young people use." Oh, my. I like Mike, but it is odd that he is even running again. Some members say that Duncan has the support, but he does not come across very well on television, and we really need a presence that voters will recognize and remember. Members tell me that he is planning on using a multi-ballot approach based on the premise that no one candidate has a majority of votes on the first ballot.
All of the candidates are pro-life conservatives, according to their answers in the debate.
Regardless of who has the most followers on Twitter or the most friends on Facebook., the GOP still needs a champion. I think the best idea would be for Michael Steele to be our media face, and for Saul/Katon/Chip/Ken to work the 50-state strategy, maybe dividing the country up into four regions. (The RNC is already divided by into four geographic regions anyway.) We need to work as a team, and the consensus of the candidates seemed to be that we need to re-focus on state organizations and get away from the top-down organization, which is definitely a much-needed reform. Teamwork is the ticket!
That is my opinion. Please feel free to weigh in with yours!