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