Grassroots integral to RNC's PR redesign

WASHINGTON: The Republican National Committee (RNC) has begun the

reinvigoration of its PR function following last year's election, hiring

a slew of new spokespeople and launching a grassroots division to

recruit religious and ethnic minorities.



Trent Duffy, the first full-time RNC press secretary since Mike Collins

left to join Powell Tate last year, said: 'The RNC takes on a whole

different focus during the campaign. Now that it's finished, we're

trying to translate the success we had last summer and fall into an

intense PR campaign to elect Republicans in 2002 and 2004.'



The first part of that campaign is the new Grassroots Development

Division, which consists of a dozen staffers who will coordinate with

ethnic and religious leaders across the country to bring typically

Democratic voters into the Republican fold.



'If you take away the party labels,' explained Duffy, 'all these

communities - Hispanic, Jewish, African American, Catholic - agree with

us more on the issues than they do at the polls. We're extending our

hand to let them know we are more aligned with them.'



Separate from the grassroots division is the newly staffed media

relations office. According to Duffy, these workers came mostly from two

sources: Victory 2000, the now-disbanded RNC offshoot dedicated to last

year's election; and the office of Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, the

newly elected chairman of the RNC.



Duffy himself was most recently press secretary for the House Ways and

Means Committee, where he replaced Ari Fleischer, who is now President

Bush's press secretary.



Among the other new hires are Terry Holt, former communications director

for Victory 2000, and Mark Minor, previously Gov. Gilmore's director of

communications.



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