Behind the scenes at the Republican National Convention, GOP operatives inside a room called ’The Bunker’ were busy disseminating the ’new face’ of the Republican party to local TV and radio stations nationwide.
Behind the scenes at the Republican National Convention, GOP
operatives inside a room called ’The Bunker’ were busy disseminating the
’new face’ of the Republican party to local TV and radio stations
In the most extensive effort of its kind, 70 bookers covering nine
regions, and 15 schedulers, were busy trying to sell 200 surrogates for
the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Gov. George W. Bush.
As they were on the convention floor, those handling this quieter PR
effort were enormously successful. All of the surrogates, ranging from
retired Gen. Colin Powell to obscure House candidates, had been approved
by the Bush campaign, which also provided them with extensive talking
points. ’Everybody is singing off the same sheet of music,’ said Nels
Olson, the master scheduler and partner at the executive search firm
And so they were: from the ranchera music of Latin singing star Vicente
Fernandez to the more well-known tunes of African-American songstress
Chaka Khan, the 2000 Republican convention was a masterpiece of
political spin. Despite the overwhelmingly white faces of the delegates,
and right-wingers Jerry Falwell and Oliver North roaming the halls, Bush
and company managed to control any hint of controversy or
The only moments when the GOP went off message were during Powell’s
speech Monday night, when he chided his fellow GOPers for opposing
affirmative action for a ’few thousand black kids’ while supporting it
for lobbyists, and when Texas delegates threatened to walk out in
protest of a speech by gay Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe.
Now, the question becomes, can Al Gore and the Democrats top the GOP
show? With the Democratic convention beginning today in Los Angeles,
Democratic strategists are wondering what tack Gore should take - attack
dog or policy maven?
Bob Doyle of Sutter’s Mill consulting firm, who is working for a number
of conservative Democratic House candidates, said Gore needs a radical
image makeover in order to beat Bush in the fall. He thinks that picking
Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, an orthodox Jew and one of the first to
condemn President Clinton during the impeachment scandal, as his running
mate is a good first step. ’I truly believe that if (Gore) does not give
the American public a reason to take a second look at him or redefine
himself, there’s (not) a win scenario for him,’ Doyle warned.
While Bush succeeded in putting a friendly, more moderate face on the
modern Republican party, Gore must put a more palatable face on
This week’s convention may be his last chance to do it.
- Rachel Van Dongen is a senior staff writer at Roll Call in Washington,