The National Republican Senatorial Committee plans to expand its press operation to train campaigns earlier in the cycle on how to better handle the kind of candidate missteps that have plagued its party’s nominees.
The goal? To avoid what’s become known in GOP circles as “Todd Akin moments.”
“The campaigns that jumped off message not only infected themselves, they infected all the rest of the campaigns,” said Rob Collins, the new NRSC executive director, in his first extensive interview on the job. “So in this age of fractured but continuous, three-dimensional communication, we have to constantly plan for that and train for that and build for that.”Collins, a former aide to Cantor, illustrates the interlocking personnel patterns of Team Red.
Two cycles removed from the Citizens United decision, Collins, the former president of the American Action Network super PAC, is well aware of the influence of outside groups and their effect on the role of campaign committees. There was no lack of attack ads, phone calls or mail last year when the party fell further into the Senate minority, and it’s made controlling the message more difficult for the committees.
Despite that, Collins said he believes the experience of the past four years in this new world will help.
“We don’t have to be the center of the basketball team anymore,” Collins said. “We can be the point guard. That’s why we’re making a massive investment in human beings.”
The emphasis on human capital this cycle will also include beefing up the digital department. In other words, don’t expect financial records to show a leaner, meaner NRSC.
“We lacked for technologically advanced campaigns that were being run by people who knew what they were doing ... and candidates who were on message and had the best tools at their disposal to win their campaigns,” Collins said. “So we’re doing that now. We’re getting on the road now.”