- Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 17:59
- Published on Wednesday, 03 June 2009 17:59
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Nationally the Republican Party is suffering from what a marketing professional would call a crisis in brand management.
In other words, they have let their GOP identity, its label if you will, get hijacked by people who don’t necessarily represent the interest or concerns of the majority of Republican voters. At the very least, they aren’t personalities that are likely to help the party get back into power, either in 2010 or 2012.
Right now, in a bizarre twist, the primary GOP spokesmen are radio personality, Rush Limbaugh, and the ex-vice President, Dick Cheney. Each of them seems to basking in the attention, but in terms of helping their party regain its momentum, they’re both causing more harm than they are helping.
Limbaugh, in many respects, is in his element. With a conservative in the White House, he was in a tough position and his popularity was ebbing. Now, with a Democrat in the White House, and lots for him to carry on about, his star is ascending. However, this isn’t 1994, the President isn’t Bill Clinton, and just how far Limbaugh’s rhetoric will carry beyond his base is in serious question. The era of the “ditto head” is probably over.
Then there is Dick Cheney. Usually Vice Presidents quickly fade into the background once they’re out of office. But that’s not the case with Cheney. As the most powerful Vice President in history, he was responsible for many of the national security decisions of the past administration. With that in mind, he is anxious to defend his record against attacks by Democrats and most notably the Obama Administration. He has been on talk shows, made speeches, and all in all, been a major voice of opposition to the President.
Unfortunately, for the GOP, while Cheney has every right to make any comment he wishes, for many, he is a continuing reminder of an unpopular administration.
And this gets to the heart of the problem.
Somehow national Republicans need to break out of this mold. They can’t possibly win back seats in 2010, or let alone with the Presidency in 2012, if the principal image that comes to mind when Americans think about the party is Dick Cheney or Rush Limbaugh. As a brand identity it’s not going to win them that many votes. The message is simple: it’s time to move on. Fortunately, the Republicans do have some good talent in the wings. These are the people who should be delivering the GOP message and making the case for the party.
One of the most notable up and coming Republicans is the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty. He has managed to run and win as a conservative in what is usually a progressive state. He was even on John McCain’s short list for Vice President.
He tows the line on GOP issues, and in particular, has a strong record as a tax cutter. He is bright, cheerful, relatively young, and offers a good presence on television. As the GOP starts trying to find its way out of the fog of the 2008 election, a personality like this wouldn’t be a bad choice to carry the message.
Then there is an old reliable. Some might call him a retread and a “has been.” But I think that’s premature. He didn’t do all that well in 2008 primaries, but Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, would be another face the Republican Party would be wise to engage in carrying their national message.
Romney is surprisingly free thinking, and while the nation is currently trying to grapple with the health care issue, Romney can claim, uniquely, to be the first governor ever to push through a statewide universal health coverage initiative. Some of that thinking would be welcomed right about now.
Another potential national voice for the GOP is the popular and well liked Governor of Florida, Charlie Crist. He is likable, moderate to conservative, and has done a good job governing a state that has been bearing some of the worst of the recession. He is practical, matter of fact, and has a great sense of humor. As a potential voice for the GOP, particularly as the party tries to develop itself as an alternative to the Democrats and President Obama, a figure like Crist would do them a lot of good.
These aren’t the only voices the Republicans would be wise to draft into carrying their message, but they’re a good start. They’re relatively fresh, positive, and capable of building a new image for the GOP. As a matter of “brand identity” they would certainly sell a lot better than a radio talk show host and a grouchy former Vice President.