ED (evildevil) wrote in ontd_political,

Remember the GOP's efforst for rebranding... yeah... what happened about that?...

GOP rebranding effort flames out

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) generated the kind of buzz other politicians covet when he launched his bid to help rebrand the Republican Party last spring.

Television crews and reporters wedged themselves among the crowd of party faithful to cover the National Council for a New America's first event at a packed pizza parlor in an Arlington, Va., strip mall. The resulting coverage dominated cable news chatter for the next week. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney were also on board.

But the council has since flamed out – at least publicly.

Since its launch, the National Council hasn’t held a single public event, despite more than 5,000 invitations to take their show out on the road. Congressional ethics rules limit what Cantor can do with the group because he launched it from his leadership office, making it harder to organize events and recruit partners. Despite that caution, the group is still taking heat from outside watchdog groups that argue he is violating the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of those rules.

Furthermore, the Council has come under criticism from conservatives, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who made fun of the group for creating a “listening tour” inside the Beltway “bubble.”

The low profile is quite a contrast to the May launch party.

When Cantor unveiled the Council, the timing was perfect – it was a dark period for Republicans, and the party was looking for new ideas and new faces to counter-balance the fawning press coverage of President Barack Obama's 100th day in office. The week of its unveiling, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties and became a Democrat, an announcement that fueled another round of negative stories for the party – and drew more attention for Cantor's new group than organizers had planned.

“The massive national buzz surrounding NCNA was largely media driven, in large part due to coincidental timing with a perfect news cycle,” said Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring.

The rollout, Dayspring said, “was designed to build credibility” for the new policy forum, and it wasn’t meant to be a “prolonged campaign-style organization.”

At that first event, Cantor told the crowd at Pie-Tanza that they were launching the group, in large part, because "Our party has taken its licks over the last couple of cycles.”

And Jeb Bush counseled his fellow Republicans “not to be nostalgic about the past.”

But the National Council for a New America hasn’t done much about the party’s future in the days since.

Its biggest event since the launch has been a webcast to about 100,000 online visitors to Pajamas TV, a conservative website. The Council plans to hold future events with Pajamas TV in the fall, and it is looking to establish partnerships with other Beltway media organizations, including Politico. Members of Cantor's staff are also processing the 5,000 invites to figure out a good spot to hold the next forum, but ethics rules make traveling in support of the National Council more difficult than if it were a campaign-related activity.

Democrats – and some Republicans – have since derided the group for failing to capitalize on the early buzz. The Democratic National Committee issued nine press releases slamming the group shortly after its launch.

“The first event was designed to launch a concept – an idea to unify Republicans and speak with common voice about real issues facing Americans and their families,” Dayspring said. “Once the organization established credibility, we never operated under any time table. That notion is partisan spin designed to set false expectations.”

Organizers understood that it would take time to develop an organization and establish its credibility with voters, and this summer’s busy congressional schedule has hampered those early efforts to organize, Dayspring said.

And even if the group itself is not publicly claiming credit for any new ideas or outreach beyond the Beltway, its members remain active. Recently, Barbour and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, met with Cantor’s whip team to talk strategy in the health care fight.
Tags: eric cantor, republican party
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