Conservatives Hit RNC for 'Professional Right' Comment
Conservative leaders responded strongly late Friday to remarks made by Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Mike Shields on Tuesday about "the professional right."
RNC Spokesperson Sean Spicer clarified those remarks to Breitbart News, explaining that Shields "was trying – albeit somewhat in artfully – to make a clear distinction between the inside the beltway professionals and the thousands of conservative grassroots activists like his mom that give of their time and treasure to elect conservatives."
Brent Bozell, Chairman of ForAmerica, told Breitbart News that Shields's remarks to a meeting sponsored by the Ripon Society on Tuesday "weren't 'inartful' comments, they were insulting." According to Bozell, "[i]t is RNC Chief of Staff Mike Shields who made them and it is he, not some spokesman, who needs to walk them back, and apologize. Then he should pledge to have the RNC cut itself off from the 'beltway professionals,' the consultant 'experts' who squandered hundreds of millions of donor dollars and who damn near destroyed the GOP."
Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks, was also unimpressed with Shields's comments. "It’s sad to hear that GOP insiders are disparaging the freedom community behind closed doors at the Capitol Hill Club, one of the most exclusive clubs in DC," he told Breitbart News on Friday. "Mr. Shields owes every grassroots citizen working to save America from the big spending political class in Washington, DC an apology. I can't imagine he will last long in his new post by attacking the thousands of grassroots organizations that represent the only credible counter to the progressive left's formidable political machine."
Conservative icon Richard Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, told Breitbart that "Shields' comments show that Rush Limbaugh was right, one of the biggest problems with the RNC, and why it is failing so miserably to connect with grassroots conservatives and Tea Party activists, is that Republican insiders like Mike Shields just plain don't like conservatives." Viguerie added, "[t]hat came through loud and clear in the way Ron Paul supporters were treated at the Republican National Convention and it has been confirmed by these comments. Until conservatives take over the Republican National Committee, and oust arrogant insiders like Mike Shields, Republicans are going to remain a dying political brand."
Campaign for Liberty President John Tate extended the criticism to Shields's boss, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "While Reince Priebus gives lip service to the grassroots, libertarians and conservatives, he hires a chief of staff who has sworn to remove us from the party."
Tate agreed that Shields's comments were insulting. "These latest remarks by Mike Shields are an insult to the many people who have dedicated their lives to advancing the causes of individual liberty, free-markets, and limited government. His attitude, along with those of other top officials in the Republican Party, is the reason the Republican Party is on the verge of extinction."
One source, a veteran of decades of Republican campaigns, was frank in his assessment of Shields. "Shields is dangerous. He has no internal compass, and his political mentor is Congressman Dave Reichert. Reichert is probably the most liberal Republican in the House. He has never had a job in the private sector."