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Bill Frist: The Howard Dean of the GOP?

In politics, as in life, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

During the 2004 Democratic presidential primary campaign, a little known former governor named Howard Dean went from also-ran to frontrunner thanks in large part to a huge online community of activists who provided ground troops and millions of dollars in donations.

Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist speaks at a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on April 13. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is seen at left. Frist is using an aggressive Web strategy to build grassroots support for a 2008 presidential run. (AP Photo)

Each of the candidates interested in running for the presidency in 2008 is hoping to copy Dean's example -- constructing a community that can be counted on to turn out for events, make donations and, perhaps most importantly, spur buzz in the viral networking world of the Internet.

While much has been written on The Fix and elsewhere about the way 2008 Democratic aspirants are using their Web sites to connect with voters, relatively little time has been dedicated to how the potential Republican candidates are employing the medium.

In 2000, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) generated considerable buzz in the days and weeks following his upset victory in the New Hampshire primary by using his campaign Web site to raise several million dollars in small donations from supporters across the country. It was the first time that a major political campaign had been able to raise significant money from the Internet, a model that Dean's campaign took to an entirely new level four years later.

In the early run-up to 2008, however, it's Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), not McCain, who appears to be the candidate most closely copying the Internet blueprint of Dean circa 2004.

The genius in Dean's approach was his accessibility to his supporters -- much of which was fostered through his Dean For America Web site. Dean would regularly post his own thoughts on the site's blog, make mention of the so-called "Deaniacs" when announcing a policy position and dedicate considerable staff attention (led by campaign manager Joe Trippi) to the care and feeding of his online backers.

On Frist's Volunteer PAC site, he offers visitors several ways to interact semi-directly with him. First, Frist has a blog that is updated regularly through which he seeks to take the temperature of visitors on controversial issues like immigration and judges. To date, the blog has received more than 20,000 posts from readers, and Frist aides insist the senator regularly participates in the online debate.

Frist also recently announced a podcast, a feature that has become de rigeur for the Web sites of aspiring 2008ers. But Frist is planning an interesting twist: He allows visitors to submit questions on the site that he then answers in the "iFrist" podcast.

Frist currently has five podcasts available for downloading -- ranging from "Feingold's Censure Stunt" to the less excitingly titled "Immigration Debate Update." (At press time, Frist's was the 22nd most popular political podcast on the Apple iTunes Music Store.) Aides to Frist also note that a recent interview he did with Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds (a well-known conservative blogger) has already been downloaded almost 500,000 times.

Today Frist will launch a tool that allows users to participate in seven online mini campaigns. The options include taking a survey on national security, signing a petition in support of President Bush or endorsing the reelection campaigns of Sens. Jim Talent (Mo.) and Rick Santorum (Pa.). The site allows individuals to monitor the progress of the campaigns for which they volunteer online and allow them to invite friends to participate as well.

How effective any one of these online approaches will be in recruiting supporters (and donors) to Frist's 2008 cause is an open question. There is a at least one crucial difference between Dean and Frist. Like him or hate him, the former Vermont governor inspired passion and loyalty among those who believed in him. At best, Frist can be described as low-key, at worst boring. Can a man with the Tennessee senator's mien inspire people to activism via the Web?

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 17, 2006; 9:10 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: Counting on Sen. Clinton


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Posted by: | June 4, 2006 5:30 AM | Report abuse

The attacks on Condi on this chatroom just shows the Dems and the liberals can't debate issues. Just call people liars, no facts to back up their comments, just toss it out into the blogworld.
So Maria, name a Democrat you want to run in 2008 for president who has been truthful, and has integrity? Tell us who you want to have in the White House.
Instead of attacking, just tell us which Democrat you want and just one reason why? That is simple and worthy of discussion.
I like Condi because she is strong on using the State Department to put a representative government in place in Iraq and Afghanistan, by the people, and she is putting the civil affairs groups into place to help train the Iraq groups to take care of themselves.
Go back and read about how it took 5 years to pacify Germany and Japan after WW2. There was never a democracy in Japan until after WW2, which is proof our nation has a record of helping put into place strong governments to handle their nations.
That is one reason why Condi has the strong will to prevent Iraq from crumbling under the THUGS and ASSASSINS who are murdering their own people to block them from living in a civilized nation. That is the real story which you will not hear about in our media.

Posted by: Liza | April 20, 2006 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I remember when Bill frist and I were in High School. We would roll up 5 or 6 joints and pack some Millers on ice and head down to the river for some fishing. One day Bill and I had drank 10 or 11 beers when Bill says to me, " It aint gay if you blow me but I just pretend your a girl". I wasnt sure but then he said, "and then I will blow you and you pretend I am a girl". Well I dont remember what happend next but I do remember the time he brought some meth and a little black tar herion. I got so loaded he didnt even bother pretending I was a girl...he just started plowing my ass like he was drilling for oil...he doesnt have the biggest of cocks so it didnt hurt too much. Ahh the good 'ole days...who knew Bill would enter politics!

Posted by: good 'ole days | April 19, 2006 7:47 PM | Report abuse

You are most welcome Kakuzan. And I like the maxim. So true. That's why you need a good product from the outset. Fwiw, I think that Dean WAS a good product, and I attribute his downfall to factors outside of his campaign and his success on the internet.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | April 19, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, FairAndBalanced?; it's always worth picking up on new words and, more important, on their connotations. "Viral" may be joining "renegade," which once meant a damnable traitor and now a (presumably admirable) rebel.

But remember the maxim: if people like your service they'll tell one person, but if they don't like it, ten. Metastasis!

Posted by: Kakuzan | April 18, 2006 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Condi Rice would never be able to live down all the blatant lies she has spoken regarding 9/11 and the Iraq War. It's all on video and she is looking more pathetic each day as she clings to her current "job".

Comparing Frist to Dean is a total joke. Frist is about as inspiring as a slice of moldy bread. Send him back to the hills of his home state and his creepy supporters.

Posted by: maria | April 18, 2006 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Kakuzan, it's not just me. It is one of the hottest, if not THE hottest, sectors of marketing and communication in the world. It may not have a positive connotation to you, but in the biz/comm world, the idea of viral marketing is extremely popular. Imagine telling one person about your idea or company and the result is millions of interested people knowing about it. Compare that to traditional marketing (such as advertising), where the company or individual must buy expensive advertising or retain the services of a PR/marketing agency in order to flood the general market with your idea or product. It's a no-brainer.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | April 18, 2006 2:48 PM | Report abuse

what kool aid have you been drinking. a little late for frist to be diving into the internets, it has been going for years. did someone give frist a typewriter yet??
frist has the personality of a wet mop.
and your reporting is a little over the top, or should I say, misrepresenting a story.
I am sure the headline got a lot of readers and a lot of laugs.

Posted by: lindab | April 18, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"Viral," FairAndBalanced?? But the image you give is surely meant to be a positive one, and most people think poorly of viruses. You might as usefully compare the Dean campaign to an epidemic or describe it as metastasizing.

Posted by: Kakuzan | April 18, 2006 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Condi is being groomed for office, it is as plain as the nose on Hillary's face.

Posted by: Millie | April 18, 2006 11:14 AM | Report abuse

The article points out that Frist is copying Dean's tactics. That certainly does not imply any philosophical similarity between them. Frist's apparent success in attracting contributions, hits on the site and downloads would indicate that he is generating some degree of interest among conservatives. Let us not forget that Dean attracted a very devoted following in the months leading up to Iowa. However, his support was "an inch wide and a mile deep", if I can turn an old cliche around. His showing in Iowa was very disappointing and that was before the scream heard around the world. A commited core of supporters is important to building a successful campaign, but will not bring you success without attracting widespread support. I suspect Frist will have about as much success in the primaries as Dean did.

Posted by: Jim D | April 18, 2006 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | April 18, 2006 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Frist is like DEAN, they are both problamatic for their parties. They both blurt out stupid things that embarass party loyalist. They both are ex Medical Drs with an ego. I wish they both would go away.

Posted by: Sunshine | April 18, 2006 2:51 AM | Report abuse

Frist = too boring to be elected President

Posted by: Sandy | April 18, 2006 12:04 AM | Report abuse

"A viral community"--FairAndBalanced, above, on the Dean internet phenomenon.

Indulging in highbrowish ire, I'll
Remark on this networking spiral:
Check your copy, my dear,
Or your meaning's unclear:
Was that "virtual," "vital," or "viral"?

Posted by: Kakuzan | April 17, 2006 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Huh? This is seriously just dumb. The only reason you give for calling Frist "The Howard Dean of the GOP" is that they both use the internet? Dean's support caim from the internet not because he used the internet. Moreover, net support was the basis of Deans's ride from utter obscurity to household name. Frist is the Majority Leader of the US senate. There also isn't a comparable online comunity on the right to support him.

How can you write a political blog and not know these things ABOUT POLITICAL BLOGS?

Posted by: Jack | April 17, 2006 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Comparing Bill Frist to Howard Dean is ludicrous. Dean has never used his email server to hide stolen email from the opposition. Dean has never bailed out of a company just prior to every other stockholder losing his shirt when it was found that the company had been fudging the books. Dean has integrity, something that Frist lost when he decided to quit practicing medicine and take up politics. I wouldn't vote for Bill Frist if my life depended upon it.

Posted by: Jamie | April 17, 2006 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Reference Conservatives learning to us use technology such as the Interact. Whatever new vehicle works will be copied by those not using. It's only a matter of how quickly.

Weren't PACs originally developed by unions so they could pool money and have enough to be able to compete with the Republican's money machines? Look at how PACs have been used by the people they were originally intended to be used against.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | April 17, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Fair and Balanced: Be careful who you snipe at. Ross Perot's barb, "An unknown Governor from a small state." got you William Jefferson Clinton as President.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | April 17, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Re whether Frist is being innovative re the use of technology: No, he's not. He's using it as other people have, but that doesn't mean it won't work for him. The fact that blogs and podcasts are no longer new is, in fact, valuable to Frist, because his constituency is not young technophiles---it's middle-class evangelicals.

Posted by: THS | April 17, 2006 5:04 PM | Report abuse

Independent Woman: Frist seems to me to be a Republican version of Gore in 2000 or 2004 (or, for that matter Kerry in 2004). Patrician, overly-scripted, etc. The couple of times I've seen him on Meet the Press he's seemed just ridiculous.

I've already made my position clear above, but wanted to second IW's perspective. Of all the Republicans I would hate to see become president (which is all of them), he might be the worst. His kowtowing is even worse than McCain's. At least we know McCain once had a spine.

Those who enjoyed his performance as a televised diagnostician might want to track down the footage from the This Week show on which George Stephanopoulos had to talk him out of the idea that you could get AIDS from tears, so committed was he to the idea that any exchange of body fluids could bring about death and destruction.

Posted by: THS | April 17, 2006 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Frist is the GOP's Howard Dean? Yeah, right. And golfer George Allen is the GOP's Tiger Woods. C'mon guy, you gotta do better than that.

Posted by: Bamboo22 | April 17, 2006 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Bill Frist will win the nomination because he'll be the Anti-McCain.

And ANYONE that wins the GOP nomination can beat Hillary Clinton. She may (or may not) be formidable in battle for the Democratic nomination, but it took BILL Clinton just to get to 43% in a competetive election against H.W. Bush. No way that Hillary is as strong as Bill was.

Posted by: Cavalier | April 17, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Frist seems to me to be a Republican version of Gore in 2000 or 2004 (or, for that matter Kerry in 2004). Patrician, overly-scripted, etc. The couple of times I've seen him on Meet the Press he's seemed just ridiculous.

The blind trust thing probably isn't going to have much traction during an election, but the Terry Shiavo thing surely should (assuming his opponents know how to capitalize on it).

To me, voting Frist would be voting for a third Bush term. I'd vote anybody-but-Frist (even, *shudder* Hillary). I'd be more open to voting McCain --just because I *know* that he probably hates Bush as much as anyone.

Politics is the art of polished insincerity...and Johnny M. seems to be blossoming into a fine politician. Let's just hope that there's a policy-guy deep down at the core and that this boot-licking act is just politics.

Posted by: Independent Woman | April 17, 2006 4:04 PM | Report abuse

How can you possibly compare these two? First of all, one was an unknown Governor from a small state, the other the majority leader of the Senate.

Secondly, oooh, wow, a blog! Whoaaa. And a Podcast! Gimme a break. Frist is just playing catch up. Dean's successful use of the internet was not from a top-down "download this" type of communication. It was a viral community where individuals took it upon themselves to start groups, discussions, poster/flyer and other methods. The big difference is not in content or content delivery via digital means, but the fact that the netroots took it upon themselves to create a vibrant community which spread like wildfire around the country.

Oh, and btw, the Dean phenomenon was two years ago, back when blogs were just starting to catch on. Now that millions of blogs are created every day around the world, what exactly has Frist done that is even one iota as innovative as Dean's campaign?

Chris, this is a poorly written column, with poor analysis and written on behalf of someone whose political career is on the wane. Other than that, nice job.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | April 17, 2006 3:23 PM | Report abuse

If Howard Dean announced a run for 2008, millions would come out to support him.
I would be one of them: Here, Howard, take my credit cards and max them out! Money? Not to Worry. Hillary? Not a chance, tho I'm a life-long straight-Dem voter. I want a straight-shooter, not DLC hacks, DLC cronies and DLC calculating/triangulating methods. Frist? Forget about it. The proof of his pudding was the Schaivo affair. Like Dean in 2003, I want my country back again.

Posted by: Carol | April 17, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Does Frist pant everytime Bush walks into the room....I think so. Do i pant everytime Howard dean walks into the room..... I think so.

Posted by: | April 17, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

First you have to have faith that there are two large partys in this country (not just the ruling party). I am betting we get two morons from the large ruling party running for the top spot again. After you vote don't forget to pretend that someone gives a damn and counts it.

Posted by: ron | April 17, 2006 2:44 PM | Report abuse

I think Chris meant virtual networking, but viral networking makes the post a lot funnier.

"spur buzz in the viral networking world of the Internet"

Posted at 09:10 AM ET, 04/17/2006
Bill Frist: The Howard Dean of the GOP?
In politics, as in life, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist speaks at a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on April 13. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is seen at left. Frist is using an aggressive Web strategy to build grassroots support for a 2008 presidential run. Each of the candidates interested in running for the presidency in 2008 is hoping to copy Dean's example -- constructing a community that can be counted on to turn out for events, make donations and, perhaps most importantly, spur buzz in the viral networking world of the Internet.

Posted by: VRW | April 17, 2006 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Mike234 said: Frist is too 1) patrician, 2) brittle and 3) thin-skinned to get the nomination."

This is what I meant when I said that he lacked sex appeal and animal energy. Americans like their candidates to be hearty people, people who would be at ease w/ a dog and a beer at a baseball game. That people see Pres. Bush this way is somewhat amusing given his silver-spoon background, but that background is not part of his manner.

That people want to hire as president someone who is at ease at a baseball game is also bizarre, but I do think those elemental qualities drive decisions more than policy positions.

Posted by: THS | April 17, 2006 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Recall that Frist was chosen by Bush to replace the speaker...what's his name the cheerleader from Tennessee... 'cause the WH didn't like him.Frist is just another brilliant pick administration pick with questionable ethics. Are there no clean people to run, or what?

Posted by: CAMERON | April 17, 2006 2:32 PM | Report abuse

A very interesting post, Grace, but could a pro-choicer possibly get the Republican nomination?

Posted by: Mike 234 | April 17, 2006 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Frist is too 1) patrician, 2) brittle and 3) thin-skinned to get the nomination. And the sour expression he so often sports is neither warm nor reassuring.

Having said that, his ability to diagnose complex medical conditions from the Senate floor is intriguing.

Posted by: Mike 234 | April 17, 2006 2:25 PM | Report abuse

As a delegate from Texas at the Memphis event, I found a group of dedicated Condi people at their booth, collecting donations and making their voice heard in promoting Condoleezza for president. (Chris- you probably saw me in my hat wearing the CONDI 08 bumper sticker)
The ability to use the internet effectively has been shown by the Condi people, with their radio ads in Memphis, which followed their ads playing in Iowa, New Hamphire, Florida, and other states.
The lady in charge, a former Marine, told me that over 4,000 people have donated funds to finance those ads, radio and TVwise, like on the Commander in Chief show.
Bill Frist won his own state in the Memphis straw poll and even Howard Fineman said it was expected.
The buzz for Condi in 2008 has been whirling for over a year, along with over 30 websites dedicated to talking about Condi for president. Punch in the name Condoleezza Rice on google, ask, or yahoo, and take a look at all the data about Condi for president.
That is the real story, not Frist. Sorry. And you need to come to Texas for the Republican convention starting on June 1. We will be showing the support for Condi in Texas, and those ads will greet the delegates across the state.

Posted by: Grace | April 17, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

This will sound crass, but, really, I think Frist will fail because he has no sex appeal. By that, I mean he conveys no animal energy. Although I am by no means a fan of President Bush, I can see that he is a lively, energetic person and that, in some circumstances and with regard to some issues, he conveys some human warmth.

For instance, in his arguments in favor of a guestworker program, he has said, simply that as long as people can earn $5.00/day in Mexico and $50/day here, we will have illegal immigrants and, further, that America should not be the kind of place in which people die in the back of 18-wheeler trucks in the Arizona desert.

While I disagree w/ almost all of the decisions Bush has made and think that, on some topics, he is practically delusional, he has a certain appeal, and, for others who share his views and values, that appeal translates into votes.

Frist simply has no appeal.

Posted by: THS | April 17, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Mark B and others-

You are missing the intended audience for this stuff. You cannot assume that because you don;t like it no one does.

There is an entirely different mind set in America and Frist is not trying to raise money from you and Deanites. Everyone who thought Terry Schivo should have been left on life support who didn't protest at the hospital but saw it on CNN is his audience. Everyone who wants that wall built across the Texas-Mexico border is his audience.

Don't confuse your personal philosphies with those of the Frist audience. They are diametrically opposed and there are plenty of them. If you don't think so, you are just fooling yourself.

Posted by: RMill | April 17, 2006 2:01 PM | Report abuse


Don't forget that the GOP has internal struggle to deal with on this issue, with Bush and moderate Republican Senators preferring the Kennedy/McCain decriminalization and guest worker option and the more conservative House majority felony and border security track.

Rove still works for Bush so unless he quits, I would find it difficult for him to formulate an attack on his own President's position to the detriment of members of the GOP Senate up for re-election or with 08 aspirations (Brownback, DeWine, Frist, Hagel, McCain).

I would also suggest that an equally effective commercial could be developed against the more conservative approach using their own words against them:

i.e. "The United States of America doesn't build walls...we tear them down!" w/R.Reagan in background "Mr. Gorbechev... tear down this wall!"

Posted by: RMill | April 17, 2006 1:56 PM | Report abuse

All the podcasts and all the websites in the world won't erase the irreparable damage Frist's pandering in the Terri Schiavo case did to what little reputation the millionaire surgeon might have outside of the nutzoid wing of the Christian Right. Podcasts and websites also won't erase questions about his lack of ethics and truth-telling when it comes to blind trusts and insider stock trading.

Posted by: MarkB | April 17, 2006 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Please advise the status of the FRIST insider trading investigation! PLEASE;PLEASE; PLEASE.

Posted by: edcool | April 17, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

We are still confusing tactics with philosophy.

CC made no such philosophical connection between the two men.

From a tactical standpoint of using the internet as a tool, Frist is extending the innovation. Interactive mini-campaigns, podcasts

500,000 downloads of an on-line interview? I believe that shows there is conservative interest of using such tools.

Recruitment and fund raising success, as CC states, remains to be seen but again, do not underestimate the replication of Dem tactics for Rep usage. And do not assume that all conservatives are already
"plugged in". We also assumed they all already go out to vote and Rove's GOTV effort caught national Dems with their drawers dragging in the dirt.

Posted by: RMill | April 17, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

When I saw the headline I thought the similarity is that when Howard Dean opened his mouth and out came a scream, his campaign imploded. With Bill Frists when he opens his mouth it is with such nonsense (Terry Schiavo, Immigration, you name it) that his campaign is rapidly imploding as well. He has about a snow balls chance of hell of lasting to New Hampshire much less getting the nomination.

Posted by: BobM | April 17, 2006 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Do you notice the Washington Post consists of 3 news articles on the demise of the republican party and another 2 glorifying illegal immigration, including a loitering 16 year, bad grades, no job, but back problems and chiropractor. Gee, my insurance does't cover chiropractor. Since his parents are house cleaning and a craftsman, I wonder who pays? The WaPo has not had one journalist cover the schools, crime, medical cost, tax costs, of the illegal immigration. It is a media blackout on unbias journalism. Some reporters, even liberals like Jim Pinkerton at Newsday, are picking up on this and will expose it. If you don't think Karl Rove has not planned a September blitz on the Kennedy legalization of felony illegal citizens, then you are wrong. The House republicans will come out looking like true Patriot, and the dems like Dukakis and his love of criminals.

Posted by: Karen | April 17, 2006 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Ginny: I've seen/argued with/ignored plenty of conservative (highly and otherwise) posters on this blog. They are not as afraid of the WaPo as you might think (and as I occasionally I wish they were).

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | April 17, 2006 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Frist can cover himself on the Schiavo by saying "I did have a problem that a life or death decision was being made by a philandering husband". I am a right-to-die advocate, but that husband was sleazy. The press barely mentioned his other life. He can turn it into malpractice reform too. Skeevy Shiavo got a settlement that include $700,000 to FUTURE medical cost. All went to his friend and lawyer. He also got a big chunk for loss of companionship. I don't think dems want to fight this Schiavo thing all over. Her family is more believable.

Posted by: Karen | April 17, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"Posted by: Kakuzan..."

I noticed the "viral networking world" reference too, although I assumed it was meant to say "vital networking world...".

Then again, with the rapid proliferation of viruses through the internet, who knows? We need Dr. Gore, inventor of the internet, to help here...

Posted by: zippy | April 17, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse

There are young, dynamic conservative people who connect online with each other and with the press, but the big difference between them and the liberals is that their potential audience are MUCH less likely to be energized by a web movement. Pretty much everyone who might be active in a conservative campaign is ALREADY active. Dean's real strength from the web was the huge group of new people it activated. I don't think any Republican can do that. The unawakened conservatives don't fit the webhead profile AT ALL.

Posted by: Staley | April 17, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

"Spur buzz in the viral networking world"--boy, is that a great mixed metaphor! Mount that buzz, Hopalong, and spur it! Wrangle those viruses!

Or was "viral" meant for "virile"? A flatlander sexist who can't spell?

Posted by: Kakuzan | April 17, 2006 1:25 PM | Report abuse

In Re Judge C. Crater, the reason you won't see many posts supporting Frist in this paper is because most of my conservative friends, who are strongly supportive of Frist, wouldn't be caught reading the Washington Post or Chris - I like to read both.

Posted by: Ginny | April 17, 2006 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Oh, great, someone logs in with a supportive comment while I'm typing my comment. Remind me to always paste in from Word. Still only a small minority of the GOP posters that we all know are out there.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | April 17, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse


Found your article about Frist very interesting. I think my liberal friends really miss the point on Frist. Most people don't hold Schiavo against him. Only my liberal friends. As far as him not being charismatic - who out there running for office today is? There is a lot of interest in Frist down here in the South, and strangely enough, a lot of it is from Democrats who are not happy with the Democratic party. As far as Frist not being a success, give me a break - he was a world renowned heart surgeon and he became majority leader after serving less time in the Senate than any other majority leader. Just because the liberals don't like what he has done, doesn't mean he isn't a successful man. Incidentally, I am a liberal Democrat, but I will work for and contribute to a Frist candidacy. Don't let emotions get in the way of objectivity. This guy is for real.

Posted by: Ginny | April 17, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I know Howard Dean. I've heard him scream. Bill Frist is no Howard Dean.

Posted by: Jorge from Bloomington | April 17, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

FALSE ANALOGY: Comparing the law-breaking, ineffective Bill Frist with the innovative, effective Howard Dean.

This false analogy is designed to denigrate Howard Dean at the same time as it recognizes Bill Frist's flaws.

But it does not match the facts.

DEAN IS EFFECTIVE as the administrator of the Democratic, raising more funds than his predecessors, putting more candidates in more races than his predecessors, developing a message for the Democratic Party (We can do better! -- and it is certainly true that we can do better than the current administration.)

FRIST IS INEFFECTIVE in Congress, keeping meaningful debate and votes from occurring, putting his party on record as creating the worst Medicare Drug law possible, and criminalizing undocumented immigrants and those who would assist them; and standing up for silly issues like gay marriage.

DEAN is changing the Democratic Party from the inside, bringing in new voters, new activists.
FRIST is turning off Congress members and voters.

DEAN follows the law.
FRIST breaks the law, makes money off of the legislation he proposes, does not honor his 'blind trust.'

BOTH MEN ran for office. Both were selected by their peers for leadership positions. Both are physicians. Both have been called "shrill" by the Washington Post and other media (whether or not the epithet turns out to be true).

Posted by: MS | April 17, 2006 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Having seen Bill Frist on TV for several minutes on Sunday, I must say that in my professional view, he is brain-dead.

Posted by: Bleckman | April 17, 2006 12:48 PM | Report abuse

It would be interesting to see Dr. Frist explain his independent medical experiments on animals. The American people do not seem to mind a corporate crook in office, but they would probably would be less tolerant of an animal abuser.

Posted by: Peggy | April 17, 2006 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Do not dismiss the conservative activists ability to emulate the so called "liberal blogsphere" and turn the internet into a similar tool as used by McCain in 2000 and built upon by Dean in 2004.

Obviously, Frist will not be soliciting the same profile of potential donors and activists but as they showed in 2004 with their GOTV efforts, which far outshone the Dems and their combined 527 activities to beat Dems at their own game, the conservative activist base is at least as large if not bigger and remains susceptible to further integration via the internet.

Posted by: RMill | April 17, 2006 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Other Pres Fundraising PACS ONLY-
1st Quarter 2006
as of 3/31/06

Bayh- 1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$1.982 M raised; $1.398 M spent; $967 K on hand; $94,500 spent on other candidates.

Biden- $703 K raised; $460 K spent; on hand $224 K ; $72,200 spent on other candidates

Clark- 1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$457 K raised; $576 K spent; $22 K on hand; $10,000 spent on other candidates

Clinton- 1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$1.55 M raised; $1.468 M spent; $165,428 K on hand; $110,000 spent on other candidates.

Edwards- $1.536 M raised ($286 K in 1st Q); $1.53 M spent ($302 in 1st Q); on hand $7,000; $0 spent on other candidates

Feingold-1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$769 K raised; $459 K spent;$310 K on hand; $42,250 spent on other candidates.

Gore- transferred $40 K from Gore/Lieberman General Election Legal and Compliance Fund to Gore 2000 inc. No other info

Kerry- 2/10/05 through 2/28/06
$2.345 M raised; $2.086 M spent; $259 K on hand; $642,745 spent on other candidates. NOTE: Kerry's presidential campaign fund (general election fund) reports $13.8 M and Kerry for President (pre-convention committee)had $8.556 M on hand even after transferring $600 K to his Senate campaign fund.

These staggering amounts of available cash is why Kerry is still included. Cannot ignore $25 M.

Warner- 7/1/05 through 3/31/06
$5.207 M raised ($1.8 M raised in 1sr Q alone); $1.965 M spent ($1.1 M in 1st Q alone); $3,242 M on-hand; $265,600 spent on other candidates.

TOP 5 Raised-DEMS

TOP 5 On Hand- DEMS (includes last reported Senate $)
1. Clinton
2. Kerry
3. Bayh
4. Warner
5. Biden


Allen- 1/1/05 through 3/31/06
$293 K raised; $352 K spent; $152 K on hand; $176,500 spent on other candidates.

Brownback- 1/1/05 through 3/31/06
$336 K raised;$256 K spent;$89 K on hand;$62,500 spent on other candidates.

Frist- 1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$4.275 M raised; $4.7 M spent; $522 K on hand; $81,000 spent on other candidates.

Guiliani- 1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$303 K raised;$202 K spent;$295 K on hand;$58,000 spent on other candidates.

Hagel- 1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$741 K raised;$565 K spent;$225 K on hand;$94,116 spent on other candidates.

McCain- 7/1/05 through 2/28/06
$2.8 M raised;$1.753 M spent;$1.048 M on hand;$197,914 spent on other candidates.

Pataki- 1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$832 K raised;$192 K spent;$647 K on hand;$36,000 spent on other candidates.

Romney- 1/1/05 through 3/31/06
$319 K raised;$109 K spent;$215 K on hand;$20,100 spent on other candidates.

Santorum- 1/1/05 through 2/28/06
$612 K raised;$622 K spent;$2 K on hand;$67,757 spent on other candidates.

TOP 5 Raised- REPS
1. Frist
2. McCain
3. Pataki
4. Hagel
5. Santorum

TOP 5 On Hand- REPS
includes last reported Senate $
1. Santorum
2. McCain
3. Hagel
4. Frist
5. Brownback

Posted by: RMill | April 17, 2006 12:28 PM | Report abuse

looks like Frist would probably help elect at least five more Dems than another person, so go for it.

meanwhile, still amazed at the beltway lack of coverage of all the likely upset races where GOP is behind or about to lose in MT, WA, OR, and ID.

But, hey, you'll be surprised on election night.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | April 17, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Forgive me for posting it on a blog about frist but I don't know how else to get it to the public's attention or the Presidents;

An Open Letter to Our President
by testvet6778 [Subscribe] [Edit Diary]
Mon Apr 17, 2006 at 05:48:05 AM PDT
This is a letter to our President and I regret I feel I must do it as an open letter, but I feel if I sent it to the White House, that he would never see it.

Right, wrong or indifferent he is an American President, not a republican not a Democrat, the seat you are occupying is an elected National seat, you are accountable to all of us and history.

You still have a chance to correct some of your mistakes, before history writes it's last chapter on your Presidency. I feel it is time you do a Ronald Reagan style "Mea Culpa" and below the fold is why:

testvet6778's diary :: ::

Mr Bush, the men in power around you from your Father's Presidency I feel have had an agenda that differs from you, and due to their "trusted counsel" you have chosen to go along with their ideas. Mr Cheney and Rumsfeld's desire to overthrow Saddam.

Mr Rumsfeld is the one who was the Middle East envoy in 1987 and 1988 that helped Saddam obtain the chemicals needed to make the chemical weaposn he used on his "people" and the Iranians in the 80's.

They were part of a group that wrote a "White Paper" in the early 90's explaining on why the U.S. needed to overthrow Saddam. This was not in response to 9/11, this is an agenda they have held for decades. An agenda that is destroying your Presidency.

These trusted men of government, men who served in our nations capitol while you were still in college and the National Guard. They have a lot of experience, and a lot of skeletons in their closets. They have worked together for decades, they protect each other, their loyalty is to each other, not this nation.

They committed crimes in the mid 70's while in Ford's White House they have never been held accountable for and the programs they approved or had knowledge of, caused death and disability to the men invovled, and they are still ignoring these "honorable" veterans and their widows, 31 plus years after Congress made President Ford stop the human testing that the CIA and DOD had been funding from 1952 thru 1975.

These "honorable" men around you did not stop the human experiments because they were wrong, they stopped them because they got caught. In the meantime DOD and the government have not sought to "find" these veterans of Edgewood Arsenal amd Fort Detrick's biological and chemical weapons and LSD, PCP etc experiments.

I do not have a clue how the health of the Fort Detrick test subjects is, there have been no known long term health studies of them, but Mr Bush, the IOM did a health study on the Edgewood vets, 7120 of them. In March 2003 the last study by Dr Page was released and it shows that 40% of the men are dead 2098, and of the 4022 survivors they found in FY 2000, that 54% of them are disabled about 2200 men.

Your Secretary of Defense seems to be involved in keeping these men and their widows from obtaining their veteran benefits, why?

Mr President, you can probably still clean up this mess, by asking these men for their resignations. Your duty is to this country, not to a political party. Republicans and Democrats both need to realize, that being an American is the first consideration in anything being done. How does it affect their nation, not how can I get more votes. This country is more divided now than at any other point in our nations history, you have the ability to bring it together again, will you? P.S. My wife sends her best wishes to your wife Laura.

Michael Bailey a disabled veteran
Lexington SC

Posted by: Mike Bailey | April 17, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

The internet will forever curse Frist with endless loops of him diagnosing Terry Schiavo from the floor of the Senate.

That little publicity stunt will cost him any hopes at national office, especially since the eventual autopsy showed Frist to be totally wrong, as he had to know at the time.

It sucks when you demagogue shamelessly on video.

Posted by: Hillman | April 17, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Terry Schiavo anyone? Were Frist to get the nomination (and I don't think he will) he'd lose the general election.

Posted by: Nick | April 17, 2006 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The only true problem with Howard Dean for the Democrats is his visibility. I haven't heard many complaints about his work with the DNC.

But that could be because Ms. Bubba is in the process of creating her own DNC to outmaneuver everybody else; and party regulars are either very worried about her or supporting her. Howard could be incidental to the dynamic.

If he stayed in the background totally, those that try to paint him as the face of the party would get no traction whatsoever. But, unfortunately as titular head of the party he can't hide. He does have to go on Face The Nation, Meet The Press, etc.

Anybody know if Schieffer still gets to do Face The Nation when Couric goes to the Evening News?

Posted by: Nor'Easter | April 17, 2006 11:06 AM | Report abuse

i think this column could have been written about any of the GOP candidates. Dean’s use of the internet will be emulated by all serious contenders for the 08’ nomination. I think, though, that what separates Dean from Frist, if we’re talking about rallying the troops, is the audience. What made Dean’s internet campaign so successful was his support from younger, internet savvy liberal voters. I think that if we are to make a comparison, then Frist must first energize HIS younger, internet savvy twenty-something GOP demographic. I'm not sure he can.

Posted by: gilly | April 17, 2006 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Frist may be the GOP's Dean, but it has nothing to do with his online savvy. Rather, he most resembles Dean in his uncanny knack for embarrassing his colleagues with idiotic public statements. All hail the leader of the Quayle Wing of the GOP. Yup, there's a Quayle wing now - which explains why they're always flying in circles.

Posted by: Mr. Derp | April 17, 2006 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Chris, maybe you should ask Frist to watch a videotape of himself speaking -- and diagnose his campaign. I think it's in a persistent vegetative state, myself. Only money keeps it alive.

He's the most wooden, unremarkable, uncharismatic, useless flip-flopper in politics. He believes in nothing--an empty suit. i hope he runs because he will lose big time --same as Bush would have, if his Daddy hadn't been so well-connected.

Of course, even Bush believes in stuff. Unfortunately, none of it is real.

Posted by: Drindl | April 17, 2006 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Have to say that I agree w/ the comment re Frist being the GOP's Kerry, with the proviso that he is even lamer than Kerry. Kerry is, in fact, the only potential Dem candidate that I see Frist beating.

Quite simply, he is ineffectual. He appears to have no cojones, and, for a smart guy, he has made some dumb mistakes.

Posted by: Not a Frist Fan | April 17, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Frist really doesn't seem like the best choice Republicans could make. But, assuming McCain is the leader going in, there's going to be a Christian right alternative, much there will be a left wing liberal alternative in the Democratic primary.

If George Allen struggles in his reelection bid this year, that Christian right alternative may well end up being Bill Frist, if only be default. It can't be Rudy. It can't be Newt. Romney is trying to lurch rightward, but years of evidence go against his social conservatism. Huckabee? Brownback? Neither one of them seem to have Frist's fund raising ability.

Oddly enough, the best thing for Bill Frist's personal outlook is for George Allen to lose his election this year.

Posted by: adam | April 17, 2006 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Bill Frist is a joke compared to Dr. Dean. Also, isn't Frist under investigation by the SEC due to his family's connection with some TN healthcare racket? Or did the Bush Gang call off the fed dogs?

Posted by: D.M. Dunkle | April 17, 2006 10:33 AM | Report abuse

And a follow-up: why isn't html allowed in comments to The Fix? I just tried to link to this article, explaining my position.

All that said, the blog is great, and extremely informative--I love it. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Dan Miller | April 17, 2006 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Great post, but why are there no links? Many people will want to check out these sites, and they aren't going to want to have to search for them. This is a blog, not a news article (and frankly, I think that news articles could also benefit from hyperlinks).

Posted by: Dan Miller | April 17, 2006 10:23 AM | Report abuse

I think you are mistaking the media with the message. Dean did well early on because he had a message that Dems wanted to hear, and because he was coming from nowhere he had to use the alternative media of the time to get the message out. Frist is unpopular both in his own party and nationally - a more apt analogy is that Frist is the GOP's Kerry. He looks good on paper but in reality isn't a good candidate.

I also don't think trying to use alternative media will be as effective in the GOP, where the demographics of the party don't mesh well with the demographics of the web that Dean was more in tune with - young, technically savvy, and cosmopolitan. These groups trend towards Democrats and not Republicans.

Posted by: Rich | April 17, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

What political pundits and writers need to realize is that Dean simply proved that the Internet is an effective fundraising tool and a way to reach supporters with your messages. I'd be shocked if everyone with 2008 aspirations doesn't follow the Dean model. As for Frist, I'm trying to imagine him copying Dean all the way to the scream. That would be awesome.

Posted by: Glenn Gervasio | April 17, 2006 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Please let it be Bill Frist... He could only win if Hillary runs.

Posted by: Will | April 17, 2006 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I'll see Intrepid Liberal's bet, and I'll raise that with Terri Schiavo; poor leadership; failure to pass an immigration bill, and his "blind trust".

He's not even close to what Howard Dean did in 2003-2004, and farther still from what Dean is today.

Posted by: brendaN | April 17, 2006 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Respectfully Chris, Bill Frist has about as much in common with Howard Dean as I do with Dolly Parton. Frist has neither conviction nor a cause to rally behind like Dean did.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | April 17, 2006 9:59 AM | Report abuse

But Frist isn't popular, isn't successful and isn't inspiring. Bad comparision and bad column.

Posted by: Greg in NY | April 17, 2006 9:36 AM | Report abuse

As a life long Democrat, I would LOVE to see Bill Frist get the Republican nomination. Hillary would trounce him in the debates & the campaign. And it wouldn't be the first time she put a "Bill" in his/it's place. Go Bill!

Posted by: Michael | April 17, 2006 9:34 AM | Report abuse

his stance on stem cell research might be problematic

Posted by: college kid | April 17, 2006 9:29 AM | Report abuse

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