GOP Strategist: ‘Reagan Is Dead. Accept It.’

Lovers of Ronald Reagan: Avert your eyes. A leading Republican strategist said the beloved leader is dead and that the GOP of the future needs to move on and quit looking to the past.

Ford O’Connell, a former campaign worker for Sen. John McCain’s failed bid for the presidency in 2008, said in his newly released book that the Republican Party has been hit hard with “obsessive Reagan disorder,” an unhealthful state that is stymieing growth, The Hill reported.

The guidance is sure to irk those who see the GOP as falling fast from traditional conservative views and pine for what they see as the golden days of Reagan.

But Mr. O’Connell said he was only trying to propel the party forward.

Read more from Cheryl K. Chumley at The Washington Times 

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GOP Strategist: Reagan Is Dead; Move On

A Republican strategist is reminding his party that President Reagan is dead.

Ford O'Connell, who worked on Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, says if Republicans want to win the White House in 2016, they need to break free of the "obsessive Reagan disorder."

Rule #1 of the political analyst's newly released book, "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery," is: "Ronald Reagan is dead. Accept it."

Such a sentiment is sure to be tough to digest for a party insistent on using the 40th president's legacy as a GOP litmus test to prove conservative credentials.

"The Reagan fixation is a drag on the future success of the GOP at the national level. It undermines the candidates because it becomes a crutch for their inability to articulate an actual agenda or a forward-looking vision," he writes.

In an interview with The Hill, O'Connell says he combines his "two loves: politics and football" into his work “Hail Mary,” a sort-of political manual for presidential hopefuls.

The native Texan contends that he is "not pushing a personal agenda" in his blunt "playbook."

He says it is aimed squarely at the 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, whom he handicaps in a chapter entitled “2016 Republican Presidential Scouting Report."

 "This was an honest attempt to say, 'Hey, if you want to win the White House, you've got to understand the obstacles and what it's going to take to get 270 electoral votes, regardless of who the nominee is," O'Connell explains.

Read more from Molly Hooper at The Hill

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Ronald Reagan Is Not Coming Back, Republicans. Accept it.

When legendary University of Michigan football coach, Bo Schembechler, retired in 1990, many people saw the end of a golden age; that Michigan, the most winning program in the history of Division I college football, would never achieve that same glory. But Bo was replaced. The football team claimed more victories and more championships. Football, like life, went on. Bo never would have wanted Michigan to live in the past.

The Republican Party has not learned this lesson about its own team. We are still waiting for our beloved head coach, Ronald Reagan, to come out of the locker room and lead us to another victory.

Anyone who tries a different approach is questioned and doubted – “that’s not how Ronald Reagan would have done it.” This is not the way to build a winning team.

If Republicans want to win big victories again, the first lesson is a painful one: Ronald Wilson Reagan is dead and he’s not coming back. 

A disturbing trend has emerged in Republican presidential primaries and is threatening the GOP’s White House prospects in 2016. I call it O.R.D. – “Obsessive Reagan Disorder.” It is the insistence that any presidential candidate verify that he is Reagan’s stylistic and ideological twin.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at

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Hail Mary: Ford O'Connell's Playbook For The GOP

Republican approval ratings are in the toilet and the 2014 midterm elections are right around the corner. In addition, 2016 is already on the campaign strategy table and donors aren't wasting any time writing big checks. If Republicans want to win, they're going to need a plan and longtime GOP strategist Ford O'Connell has a controversial one ready.

In his new book, Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook For Republican Recovery, O'Connell offers the GOP 10 rules about how to take on controversial issues that split not only Democrats and Republicans, but the Republican Party itself.


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The Coming Obamacare Tsunami

Any day now, you expect the Democrats to break out the Rob Ford excuses. Yes, some unfortunate choices were made. Yes, it appears the consequences were, in many cases, unanticipated. But hey, we were just having a little fun while we were in a drunken stupor. Besides, people still love us.

Only, no they don't. The numbers are coming in. The lies are adding up. And the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the U.S. Senate are freaking out. They want deals, delays, definitions, distractions – anything to keep from paying what is beginning to appear will be a heavy price for voting for Obamacare.

Americans have surveyed the president's masterpiece of domestic policy, his signature achievement. And they have decided it's not working.

Support erodes daily. The play changes accordingly. Can vulnerable Senate Democrats shelter in place and ride out the storm, as President Obama's pollsters suggest? Or is it time to beat that panic button like a gong?

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Liz Cheney’s Wyoming Race a Turning Point For GOP On Gay Marriage?

In The Daily Beast on Monday, Republican political analyst Ford O’Connell asks a provocative question: can former Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary Cheney, “save the GOP?” He answers, in a fashion, “Yes.”

O’Connell examines a number of interesting developments in how Republican partisans and politicians view the issue of same-sex marriage, how rapidly the public’s perception of gay and lesbian couples has evolved, and how the GOP can stop alienating a younger generation on the issue. But while he sees Mary Cheney as having the potential to reorient the GOP on the issue of marriage, O’Connell correctly writes that it is Liz Cheney’s primary campaign in Wyoming that will have the most immediate effects on the trajectory of the GOP’s opinion on gay marriage rights.

O’Connell closes by observing that efficacy still trumps ideology, no matter how divisive the social issue in question may be. New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie won reelection, in spite of his opposition to same-sex marriage rights, with the support of a host of traditionally Democratic voting blocs in the Garden State. The message he sees being sent to the GOP nationwide: “Stand by your principled opposition to gay marriage but don’t alienate those who disagree with you.”

Read more from Noah Rothman at Mediate

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A New Tack For The GOP: Helping The Poor

Mitt Romney’s divisive remarks about America’s 47 percent continues to cast a long shadow over the Republican Party – and 2016 presidential hopefuls are trying to outrun it. Two frontrunners for the GOP nomination are raising an issue that has long been the preserve of the Democrats: the poor and how best to help them.

A year after Romney failed to unseat President Obama, ambitious Republicans seeking to make themselves into national figures and redefine their party are distancing themselves from the former Massachusetts governor and his inability to come across as a guy who cares about the down and out.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell says the 47 percent line has become a buzzword, reminding voters that Republicans hate poor people. “That is something that is strapped, right or wrong, to the Republican brand,” he said. “If [Republicans] want to win the White House or to get into a position of power again, they’re going to have to break that label.”

The current fight over the budget and Farm Bill, both currently being negotiated between House Republicans and Senate Democrats, highlights the GOP’s problem. If no budget agreement is reached because Republicans, led by Ryan, refuse to accept any tax increases, Democrats will be able to attack them for refusing to ease painful spending cuts by closing tax loopholes for the rich.

Same goes for the Farm Bill, where Republicans want to cut the food stamps program, which helps feed one in seven Americans, by nearly $40 billion. 

“It doesn’t look good,” O’Connell said, conceding that the public perception of the battle over food stamps is not helping Republicans shake their bash-the-poor reputation. “Republicans need to take a look at their policies,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, the optics of ‘Do you care about me?’ is what’s killing them.”

Read more from Pema Levy at Newsweek

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US Congress Could Push For Additional Sanctions After Iran Deal

Many US Republicans are unhappy with the weekend's deal with Iran to curb the country's controversial nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, and some experts said the Republican Party (GOP) may push for tougher measures.

"Congress is probably going to send up to (President Barack) Obama additional sanctions on Iran," Republican Strategist Ford O' Connell told Xinhua. "And the only question is whether the ( additional possible) sanctions occur before or after this interim deal."

"If you are President Obama, the next six months with this deal is going to be tough, because you know it's not just Republicans griping. There's a lot of Democrats griping too," he said, adding that some Democrats will likely join GOP calls for stiffer sanctions.

Indeed, Democrat Senator Charles Schumer said Sunday he was " disappointed" with the deal, saying the terms did not seem " proportional".

O'Connell added that Obama is likely to keep the sanctions as limited as possible before the 2014 midterm Congressional elections in an effort not to arouse more attacks from Republicans.

Read more at Global Times

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How Mary Cheney Can Save The GOP

The fight between Liz and Mary Cheney over gay marriage is both sad and symbolic. It’s sad because they are thoughtful, caring, and conservative sisters who love each other, and the issue of gay marriage is driving a wedge between them—“big time.” Their fight is symbolic because the issue also is driving a wedge between the Republican Party and voters, especially young voters.

Many young Americans agree with Mary Cheney: Gay marriage is a fundamental right, and those who disagree are “on the wrong side of history.” Other voters are less strident in their support, but they think of themselves as tolerant people. They support civil unions. They enjoy reruns of Will & Grace. They enjoy being a part of the lives of their gay friends and family members. When they see people like Mary Cheney, her wife, Heather Poe, and their beautiful children, they see a family with value—even if they also believe that “marriage” is between a man and a woman.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Daily Beast

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Decision Time For Tea Party Movement In U.S. Political Contests

After a string of setbacks and losses, the insurgent Tea Party movement is at a crossroads, between learning to live within the Republican Party or pursuing its fight against those it sees as not conservative enough.

The choice is an easy one for Tea Party activists, who vow to keep up their campaign to vote out of office those Republican politicians they say have betrayed the tenets of the conservative cause - smaller government and less federal spending and taxes.

Voters nationally blame October's partial government shutdown on Republicans, and particularly the Tea Party, which lost elections earlier this month in Virginia and Alabama.

With important mid-term congressional elections coming in November 2014, the Tea Party is under pressure from within the Republican Party to call off their insurgency and focus on the end game of defeating Democrats, rather than bruising primaries to clobber Republicans, some of whom could be in close contests to keep their seats.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said the Tea Party movement needs to decide its long-term strategy.

"Are they interested in toppling Republicans or winning elections? If they don't win some elections they're probably going to die on the vine," O'Connell said.

A series of interviews with Tea Party activists preparing for 2014, mainly in southern states, produced a clear consensus of the path forward, with possibly unsettling implications for Republican incumbents.

Read more from Nick Carey at Reuters

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