Buzz – RNC Winter Meeting, Day 3

Day 3 of the RNC meeting Buzz starts with Regional breakfast meetings, a general business session, and then members had a closed-door lunch.  The day wrapped up with strategy sessions.

At the Regional breakfast we focus on, perhaps obviously, unique Western Region matters and issues.  We introduce new members (and guests) and each state (and territory) gives an update.  The RNC Chairman and Co-chairman move from region to region to give their update.

Buzz and background that came out of this morning’s meeting include great financial news.  In my other reports, I already keep you abreast of RNC fundraising and how we’re beating the DNC each month.  Buzz here is how Chairman Priebus, Co-chairman Day and Chief of Staff Jeff Larson cut expenses by 1/3 this past year.  The RNC is more active and the messaging is better than last cycle.  Convention planning and preparation is back on track.  And,…………at only 2/3 the expenses originally budgeted!

RNC Chief of Staff Jeff Larson has oversight of these RNC meetings because he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the RNC.  Jeff has run for office, been (very) successful in the business world, worked in politics and was a partner in a political consulting firm.  He was also the CEO for the highly successful National Convention in Minneapolis.  He came out of a comfortable life to take the RNC job because of a sense of duty to the Republican party.  He doesn’t need to do this, effectively run the daily RNC operations, but he is one of my personal heroes and I am pleased that he serves Republicans.

Buzz – RNC Winter Meeting, Day 2

Aloha friends,

Day 2 at the RNC Winter Meeting, New Orleans.  Hard to keep these short and fast, lots happening.

I was with many of these RNC leaders just a couple months ago.  The different RNC regions around the nation had leadership conferences during 2011.  Most RNC leadership and Western Region committee members attended the Western Region Leadership Conference in Las Vegas.  I emailed you reports in October about that conference which began with a Presidential debate.  This meeting is a business meeting for the RNC so the tenor and activities are different than the Las Vegas Conference activities.

RNC Co-chair Sharon Day handles much of the internal operation of the RNC but she has a focus on the women’s vote and grassroots operations.  She is the Florida National Committee Woman and is closely in touch with the presidential campaigns in Florida.  For the primary and in the general election, Florida will again play an important role.  She is particularly pained that her state is in the middle of the delegate penalty discussion.  After all the work and coordination the past four years, Republicans began the nomination process (with the Iowa Caucus) essentially as early as the 2008 cycle.  There is enough dismay with states jumping early, potentially to begin the nomination process the year before a national convention, that several members mentioned proposing even stiffer penalties for 2016.  (Other members are suggesting no penalties).  Today, much of Day’s attention was on the minority outreach program at the end of the day.

Buzz – RNC Winter Meeting, Day 1

Aloha Friends,

Julie and I are at the RNC Winter Meeting in New Orleans.  I provided a report to you following the RNC Summer Meeting but, acknowledging the pace of an election year, I’ll send brief daily ‘Buzz’ reports – an overview of the meeting and the major topics of discussion – in committee or in the side rooms.

Today, was filled with committee and sub-committee meetings.  There are 172 listed attendees.  We’ll know officially how many of the RNC members are here when the business sessions begins.  The HRP decided to forego an appointment to fill our vacant National Committee Man position so we have two of three voting members present, National Committee Woman Miriam Hellreich and Chair David Chang.  There are also about 70 guests plus state staffers, representatives from national committees and organization and the media – print, on-line, bloggers and television.

The Rules Cmte, Budget Cmte, Redistricting Cmte, and Cmte on Contests met in sometimes overlapping sessions.  State chairs had a session together.  The focus is on business to be conducted during this meeting – proposed changes to RNC Rules, cmte presentations, a budget update – but the side talk is about the Presidential election.  The Rules cmte will propose a change from two to three business meetings/year.

The cmte on contests is the cmte that determines sanctions and penalties for states who went early and they arbitrate delegate credential issues at convention time.  Consensus in the RNC is that Rules are rules and Republicans follow rules so penalties for states that hold primaries and caucuses before the allowed date have to be enforced.  However, no one wants to see delegates disqualified from participating and one of the states that went early is the site of the National Convention…….Florida.  Florida RNC members discussed how they tried to get the Republican legislators to stop the effort to move Florida earlier in the delegate process but they were unable to do so.

RNC Chair Reince Priebus is everywhere.  I have documented my delight with his RNC leadership.  The RNC is functioning as a team.  Fundraising is exceeding expectations and the RNC budget has to be continuously updated to reflect the success.  Donors have a renewed trust in the RNC.  The RNC is the only committee that can directly coordinate campaigns with our Presidential nominee.  Successful fundraising translates directly to a robust Get Out The Vote (GOTV) ground game.  Each time the Budget cmte met this year, the cmte adjusted figures to account for the accelerated pace of Priebus’ fundraising.  RNC debt (down from $24M) is now less than COH!  Chang faces a similar situation with increasing HRP debt while also preparing for an election.

We had two meetings of the Conservative Caucus.  The caucus met early this morning to discuss proposed rules changes, most are now housekeeping suggestions.  At the end of the day, the Conservative Steering Cmte met and received an intriguing, somewhat shocking, update on border security.  The abuse of our southern border is worse than you can imagine.

At the Summer meeting, Romney was the only campaign with a presence – staffers providing a detailed update of the organization, media plan and fifty state plan.  I met with his political director, a campaigning friend for a number of years, to hear of Romney’s national political strategy.  After the squeaker in Iowa and the win in NH, apparently, his plan is working.  Today, campaign surrogates are around (though, mostly Romney), gauging the support of RNC members.  With their caucus and primary complete, the Iowa and New Hampshire RNC members get surrounded everywhere they go. South Carolina RNC members are never left alone.  While most of the talk and action is about Romney and Gingrich, Paul is in every discussion.

Last night, more than 100 members and guests got together for an informal pre-meeting dinner organized by a couple RNC members.  When we started these side-outings a couple years ago, we had about 30 members.  Tonight is a welcome reception for all members and guests.  Superstar Gov Bobby Jindal is the keynote speaker.  After the reception, dinner with friends (Counsel and a couple southern states).

It was a balmy 60 degrees today and tonight will drop to 40 degrees.  It is hard to not have fun in New Orleans even if we’re spending all day in the hotel conference rooms.

More buzz, tomorrow.