Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan wasn’t bothered by the results of last night’s Iowa caucuses. He says no matter which of the Big Three the Democrats nominate, the message will be the same: They are the party of higher taxes and increased government spending. “We’ll be ready for whoever they nominate,” he told me in an interview.
I asked him if that distinction will be blurred if the Republicans nominate either Iowa winner Mike Huckabee or New Hampshire (co-?) frontrunner John McCain, neither of whom have stellar small-government records. Duncan said that people have been inaccurately predicting the breakup of the conservative coalition since his first national convention in 1972, and he thinks the coalition will hold this time as well. He argues that the Democrats are the ones proposing the repeal of the Bush tax cuts, not the Republicans, and it is the Democrats who are running on a platform of large net spending increases and bureaucratic control of health care.
Duncan touted the RNC’s recent fundraising successes and said that indictators like direct mail, donations, attendance at rallies, and special elections indicated that numbers and enthusiasm were up last year compared with 2006. He said the larger Democratic turnout at the caucuses reflected the differences in the way the delegates are allocated — the Republican delegates have yet to be chosen — and that GOP turnout was actually strong. Duncan declined to elaborate on the RNC’s 2008 electoral strategy, other than to say they have developed multiple scenarios based on who the parties’ respective nominees are. Against Hillary Clinton there is the change narrative, Barack Obama is vulnerable on experience and his liberal voting record nationally an in Illinois, and John Edwards is vulnerable on his economic message. The RNC will also dovetail its strategy to the strengths of the eventual GOP nominee.