[I]n a sign of how political gravity has shifted, the RNC is now working to mesh itself more closely with independent players on the right. An “autopsy” report of the party’s 2012 failings released in March urged RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to convene meetings with outside groups within the constraints of campaign finance rules.
RNC spokesman Sean Spicer said such gatherings are now regularly taking place.
“The party’s brand is something that still matters,” said Spicer, who described the work by independent groups as complementary to that of the RNC. “We can’t do everything. We have to do the ground game and brand messaging, and other things can be picked up by outside groups that have the ability to raise corporate money.”
The RNC report also recommended the creation of a third-party research and tracking group. A few days later, former Mitt Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades filed paperwork establishing America Rising, which he is running with former RNC research director Joe Pounder and former RNC spokesman Tim Miller.
The party plans to hire America Rising, which was set up as a private limited-liability company — allowing the group to sell its research to its related super PAC, as well as to candidates and party committees. As an LLC, it is not required to disclose its funders or other financial details.
Hiring the group “allows us to start something a lot earlier, keeping an eye on 2016 without bringing on the amount of people it would require,” Spicer said.
America Rising was a direct response to American Bridge, the Democratic-allied opposition-
research super PAC that portrayed Romney as an out-of-touch plutocrat in 2012.
“In the last cycle, you saw Democrats do a better job in investing in research and tracking,” Miller said. “I think there was a feeling throughout the party that this was something that we needed to catch up in, both for 2014 and in preparing for 2016.”