Speaking at The David Horowitz Freedom Center’s “Restoration Weekend” in Florida on November 16, Pat Caddell indicted what he called the Republican “consultant-lobbyist-establishment” complex for losing a presidential campaign in 2012 President Barack Obama had no business winning.
“No presidential campaign should be run by consultants,” Caddell said. “They should be run by people who are committed to the candidate and not into making big money.”
Caddell, the former Jimmy Carter adviser who consulted on the “Hope and the Change” movie that profiled disaffected Obama 2008 voters who were not going to vote for him in 2012, warned Republicans that the consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex may threaten to take the party into oblivion if not marginalized.
The Romney campaign, Caddell said, was driven be establishment consultants and was a failure of mechanics and message.
“But most of all, it was a failure of imagination,” Caddell said. “”It was the single worst campaign in modern history of a challenger who had a chance to win … and that’s the truth and nothing can take away from that.”
Caddell said “Republicans never attempted to put a frame around the national election” because “the people who run the messaging in the Republican party and their consultants refused to do it.”
As a result, Rommey lost decisively to voters who voted for the candidate who “cares about me,” which was more than 20% of the electorate. Many of these voters are Reagan Democrats and independents.
“You have to have some connection to the people,” Caddell said, noting Romney lost the “empathy vote” by 65 percentage points to Obama.
Caddell said the Republican establishment thought, “We don’t have to do anything, [Obama] will be defeated because of the economy.”
He said Republicans believed the “numbers” told them they would win the election, and that is why many in the establishment and consultant class thought they could win by default by “holding the ball” and running out the clock. As a result, Caddell said the party neither controls the presidency nor the Senate after having played so unimaginatively and cautiously in 2012.
Caddell blasted the Romney campaign’s strategy of not running positive biographical ads about Romney until the convention. He said he was puzzled the Romney campaign did not play up Romney’s success in managing the Winter Olympics, which the Obama campaign even admitted was a winning issue.
More shockingly, Caddell said the Romney campaign made no effort to run positive spots about Bain Capital, even after Ted Kennedy’s campaign had already eviscerated Romney over Bain during the Senate campaign two decades ago. Letting the Obama campaign define Romney again was, he said, campaign malpractice.
Caddell asked: “Don’t you think you would want to say something positive about Bain?”
Caddell also wondered why Romney, who spent nearly $50 million of his own money in losing the 2008 GOP presidential primary, did not loan his campaign a similar amount of money in the spring so his campaign could more positively define him to voters.
He then brutally told donors in the audience that the Republican consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex took millions of dollars from them to only enrich themselves without having any meaningful impact on the election.
“You donors and others were played for marks by groups like [Karl Rove’s American] Crossroads,” Caddell said, noting that establishment super PACs cared more about “preserving arrangements in the media.”
Too often, Caddell said the Republican consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex ignores anything that could be effective if it does not allow them to profit.
For instance, even though a Frank Luntz focus group found that the “Hope and the Change” movie was the most effective way for Republicans to appeal to independent voters, Caddell accused the Republican “consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex” of not utilizing the film because “that communication didn’t fit” in their conventional plans to make the consultant class wealthy.
Caddell said Republicans have to go away from a bureaucratic, top-down approach to messaging and outreach and be more imaginative in the future if they do not want to go the way of the Whigs. He said Republicans have been so poor on combating narratives and framing their own messages that minorities — like Asians — voted overwhelmingly for Obama despite sharing conservative values because they think Republicans “do not care about minorities.”
He said the Republican party needed to be more imaginative — like promoting education reform against teachers unions as the new battle for civil rights and running against corruption in Washington, which a Breitbart News/Judicial Watch Election Night poll found 85% of voters were concerned about.
“Why are Republicans not the anti-establishment party?,” Caddell asked.
Caddell emphasized a “narrative is a story” that comes over a period of time and “not just a single message.”
He cited Ronald Reagan as someone who knew how to speak to Democrats and “ordinary and common” Americans and bring them over to his side because Reagan had been one of them and came from regular Americans and shared their experiences.
“That is a quality that has been missing a long time in a search for alternative candidate,” Caddell said, in reference to Reagan’s ability to resonate with blue collar Americans.
In contrast, Caddell compared Romney to the “man on the wedding cake” and Thomas Dewey in 1948, who lost to Harry Truman in an election nobody thought Truman could win. Obama, Caddell said, turned “hope and change” into “divide and conquer” and activated his liberal base just like Truman energized the New Deal coalition in 1948.
Caddell said Republicans played into Obama’s strategy because they continued to believe they could win by default and did not aggressively confront Obama and his machine. For instance, even after the first debate in which Romney thumped Obama, Caddell said Republicans tried to run out the clock. They advised Romney not to challenge Obama on Libya, which Caddell said was as much of a transparency and honesty issue as a foreign policy issue.
As a result, the media was able to protect Obama and go on the offensive against Romney for most of the campaign.
Caddell again called the media the “enemy of the people” for wanting to protect Obama instead of trying to uncover the truth about Benghazi, and told Republicans if they do not confront the mainstream media like the Romney campaign failed to do, “they will continue to kill you.”
Caddell said those in the Republican consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex “do not want to hear any views from outsiders” because it threatens their racket. Caddell said this mentality will just result in more Republican losses unless this Republican consultant-lobbyist-establishment complex is eviscerated.
“As long as the establishment wants to preserve the establishment and their special deals, you will lose,” Caddell said.