Ken Blackwell Responds to RedState

A few weeks ago we asked the men running to be Chairman of the RNC to respond to ten issues about which RedState has concerns. Previously Saul Anuzis responded. Yesterday, concurrent to releasing is Conservative Resurgence Plan, Ken Blackwell responded. Unfortunately, my internet connection died and I’m just now able to post his responses.

— Erick

– Please state your qualifications for the job and why those qualifications make you the best choice.

First of all, I’d like to thank Erick Erickson and all of the contributors at RedState for giving all the RNC candidates the opportunity to share our vision for the Republican Party. I would also like to encourage all of you to take a look at my Conservative Resurgence Plan, which was released to RNC Members and to RedState yesterday. Many of my responses are also reflected in this comprehensive plan, and I encourage you to read the entire document so you can follow all the details.

Now to answer your question – if I’m elected the next Chairman of the RNC, I will be one of the most experienced and prepared new chairmen in our party’s history. As a candidate I’ve won 13 out of 17 races and was proud to serve as Ohio State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Republican nominee for Governor, Cincinnati Mayor, and now as a board member for many leading conservative activist and grassroots organizations. And when it comes to the ability to modernize the RNC, I fully embrace online activism and I have firsthand experience in bringing significant technological advancement to large organizations.

Now one of the most important parts of the job is serving as the national spokesman for the party, and in that area, I have more media experience than any other candidate. I’ve spent countless hours representing the Republican viewpoints and conservative ideology on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, the Sunday shows, national talk radio, and writing opinion columns for the Washington Times, Townhall.com, and National Review.

– Please explain how you see the role of RNC Chairman.

The RNC Chairman must be a person who has credibility with the public and the media, someone who will articulate our principles, values, and policy solutions in the absence of the bully pulpit that comes with political majorities.

And I strongly believe that the Chairman must not only understand the GOP’s conservative principles and values, but believe that they are both fundamentally correct and in line with the belief systems of the American electorate. That person must be able to properly communicate and translate those unique principles into ideas and policies that make sense to voters.

– Please outline how you see the role of RNC Chairman in terms of structuring the Republican message and platform.

In my plan, I lay out five main elements of the conservative resurgence, and the first two are the best response to your question: inspiring the base and serving as the party of ideas. While technological developments and focusing on our ground game are the top functioning priorities, it gets us nowhere if we don’t have an active and inspired base to communicate to. And we can best reach that base through online activism and communication. We can no longer rely only on direct mail and talk radio to serve as our echo chamber – we need to take our message directly to the voters through social networking, integrating the eCampaign, and using all the technological tools available to deliver a constant, clear, and concise message.

And I firmly believe that by better communicating the philosophy that sets us apart from the Democrats, and growing the involvement of the party at precinct and local levels, we can keep our Republican elected officials accountable to our platform while holding the Obama Administration accountable to the voters.

– Please outline your goals for internal reform and/or restructuring of the RNC.

I, more than any other candidate in the race, am proposing the most comprehensive reform of the way the RNC operates. Here are a few of the broader points, but please read the Plan for more specific details on the reforms I will implement.

Once each quarter, I will hold a 4-person conference call with each state – the three Committee members and me – to discuss what is going on in their state, air any grievances, share ideas, and to find out how the RNC can best function on behalf of the state organizations.

I will implement an aggressive revenue-sharing plan to help fund state party organizations. Each quarter, the RNC will transfer 10% of its net fundraising proceeds to state party organizations, divided according to the amount received from donors in each state.

As RNC Chairman, I will secure a major speaker for each state party once per year to appear at a fundraising event, with all proceeds going to the state party. This is something relatively easy for the RNC to do, relatively difficult for many state parties to do, and very beneficial to both.

Just as importantly, I will allocate millions of dollars to the precinct organizations in our party to rebuild from the ground up. The Obama campaign had organizations set up even in Republican precincts, and we simply cannot hand them that national advantage. This is a substantial investment of resources that is unprecedented in our party’s recent history. The resources will be invested in the areas of recruitment, training, and development of precinct organizers across the country so that we have the grassroots base required for a successful ground game.

Now that’s just a sampling of the reforms I would make – please read the Conservative Resurgence Plan for more.

– Please explain your vision for expanding the GOP’s use of technology in the future and, in light of that, explain your preferred structure for the online apparatus of the RNC.

I cannot emphasize this enough – the entire structure of the RNC will change under my direction, and using the best technology is the most important component weaved throughout it. We will immediately create the position of CTO (Chief Technology Officer) who will serve in a senior level staff position, reporting directly to the Chairman. Furthermore, the entire E-Campaign Department will be integrated with the Political Department so they are working hand-in-hand, not separately or in competition. The CTO’s office will also provide best practices training and venues for e-campaign staff across the country, and will immediately retool the operations to create a modern political arsenal.

I’ve also proudly endorsed the Rebuild the Party plan and I ensure the RNC will use only the best new technology to recruit an online Republican army with millions of new activists. We will have the infrastructure and the talented staff in place to manage our precinct organizations, integrate social networking with our voter tracking systems, and find new and creative ways to push our message using new media technologies and ways to always stay in touch with our activists and potential voters.

– Please explain what steps and resources you would use to rebuild, reform, or otherwise repair state Republican parties that need restoration and/or strengthening.

As I shared earlier, one of my top reforms is precinct organization. Part of the 50 state strategy is ensuring that our operations in all 50 states will replace television advertising as the top expenditure. Picking up our ground game is simply more important that the air wars right now.

We will provide the states with the resources for technological advancements needed to organize on the precinct level, including mapping technology, Precinct Organizer, and a redeveloped Voter Vault so that micro-targeting will enhance, but no longer replace, our grassroots organization and Get Out the Vote efforts.

Another key to beefing up state operations is to keep the RNC accountable to the state parties. In my conversations with committee members I have heard many great ideas that I incorporated into the Plan, such as having regional meetings to cut back on travel and improve relationships outside the beltway, providing better organization through committees, and real interaction between the RNC and the state parties.

– Please explain what criteria you would use to vet and recruit winnable candidates.

To receive the nomination of the Republican Party is an honor that comes with certain expectations. Candidates should prove themselves to be a good Republican before they can be a good elected official, and we should recruit candidates who support the party and the RNC platform adopted at the Convention.

The RNC also needs to play a larger role in identifying potential candidates, and not rely on the NRSC and the NRCC to solely identify candidates for the U.S. Senate and House. The RNC, of course, will not pick a candidate in the primary without a signed Rule 11 waiver. The most important factor in evaluating a potential Republican candidate is whether he/she has integrity and agrees with our philosophy of limited government, traditional values and a strong defense. If someone doesn’t agree with the basic Republican values, it hardly matters whether or not they make a good candidate on other levels.

Once we are assured that they agree with our party philosophically, we should evaluate important factors such as their appeal for that office, fundraising ability, whether or not they can play on the national stage, and ensure that candidate is an honorable person free from the influences of corruption.

– Please explain how you would recruit effective candidates for the 2010 United States Senate races and how you would help those candidates.

As I told Newsmax last week, Harry Reid will do anything to manufacture a filibuster-proof majority, including crass partisan power grabs as we’re seeing in the MN recount. It’s interesting to witness his political boss antics when he is personally at risk of losing his own Senate seat in Nevada. (Clearly he’s worn out his welcome in his own state – Nevada will be a hotbed in 2010, and a top political priority for the RNC.)

One of the benchmarks of my plan that must be met to show success as a party is to increase the number of Republican officeholders on a federal level, across the country. This includes both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.

We will do everything it takes to hold on to the Senate seats we currently control, and work closely with the NRSC and the state parties to identify and recruit the best candidates based on the criteria I mentioned earlier.

– Please explain why the Republican Party should remain a pro-life party.

There exists a faction of Republicans, even some who are pro-life, who are quick to abandon our principles in order to ease people into the polls. Trust me; I’ve seen too many Republicans who campaign like Ronald Reagan, only to govern like Jimmy Carter. It’s up to us as a party to offer uniformity in our ideals. That’s why it’s the Republican Party’s purpose to provide a platform, a plan of action, and the organizational ability to win elections. If we abandon any part of that three-legged stool, we risk the loss of our party.

Let’s be honest – many Republicans are disappointed in their own party right now, and it’s even more difficult to recruit more candidates and activists when we can’t keep the current ones involved. It’s not just the pro-life Republicans we need to focus on; we also need to ensure we are the party of limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual rights, and a strong national defense. We can’t just run against Democrats and expect to win; we have to offer better solutions and stronger principles, and the Republican platform does just that.

– Please explain what benchmarks you think would be fair to measure an RNC Chairman to determine if that Chairman has succeeded or failed in his task.

In the Plan, I clearly state the benchmarks we must meet to make my vision for the RNC, and the Party as a whole, successful. The Plan details how each of the following benchmarks:

  • A nationwide strategy with 50 strong state parties equipped with the technical tools and skills necessary to be successful down to precinct-level,
  • Increased number of Federal Republican officeholders
  • Focus on more Republican Governors and adding more Republican State Legislators as we prepare for redistricting.

When a political party is winning elections it makes sense to retain the current leadership. When a political party is losing elections – especially two cycles in a row – it is time to look for new leadership. Not only am I the most experienced and tested candidate for this job, but my Conservative Resurgence Plan is the most comprehensive and aggressive approach to rebuilding the Party that we have ever considered.

Again, I appreciate the opportunity to share my vision with all of you on RedState, and I look forward to your comments.

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