No rush on 2012
Ed Gillespie -- the Republican advisor who formerly served in the Bush White House, chaired Bob McDonnell's successful gubernatorial race in Virginia and helped found the immensely effective independent fundraising group Crossroads GPS -- reminded me in a brief telephone conversation this morning that "the timeline has been moved back" for the GOP primary season. The Iowa caucus is now set for the first week of February. And so, Gillespie cautioned, there is plenty of time for candidates to mull their options. He noted that "some people don't want to be the first in the race." Going first means a chance to make a splash, but the focus on a single candidate can be intense.
In Gillespie's view, "the race is as wide open as I can remember. It will be as big a field as I can remember." He tallies at least 12 potential candidates. And he says the more the better. He points to the 2010 primaries, in which 4 million more Republicans than Democrats turned out. Vigorous races and the excitement generated by the Tea Party, he says, are to the GOP's benefit.
Gillespie, along with Karl Rove and the Chamber of Commerce, were vilifed by the White House and Democratic flacks this year as "shadowy" figures whose fundraising threatened the very fiber of our democracy. I asked Gillespie whether the Democrats will likely try to replicate those fundraising efforts for 2012. He laughed: " We were trying to duplicate what they've been doing on the left for decade!" He predicts the Democrats will come back with similar groups in 2012, an admission that "what we did was all perfect legal and effective."
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