The Gang of 15 –John Bolton, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Peter King, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Rick Snyder, John Thune and Scott Walker– are enjoying what should be their last unscheduled weekend until either election night 2016 or their drop-out from the race for the White House.
From 1/2/14 forward they should be on the trail every weekend, and on television and talk radio every day. They are selling, you see, and start-ups have to sell. All the time. Every day and every night. 24/7. Even the biggest names of the 15 have to work the fields. The smallest names have to work the hardest.
There are venues galore in which to appear, including every GOP Lincoln Day Dinner in every state in 2014 and 2015.
There are a dozen GOP Senate candidates running for current “D” seats at whose sides the Gang of 15 should be competing to campaign: Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Mead Treadwell in Alaska, Bill Cassidy in Louisiana, Steve Daines in Montana, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Terri Lynn Land in Michigan, Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia, Mike Rounds in South Dakota, and others yet to be named in Colorado, New Hampshire, Oregon and Virginia. These are the GOP’s strongest candidates in the races nine months out, and the candidates of ’16 should be in the front lines of the battles of ’14.
The Gang of 15 need to be up and running on Twitter and Instagram and fully staffed –already– with social media savants and tutors, perhaps two or three, who stick with them like body men and work to make sure they are pitch perfect for the new ways of the oldest game in America. The Gang of 15 also each needs writers, honest to God wordsmiths, not just young men and women who blog or Tweet, but accomplished writers who can make a speech sing and a phrase memorable.
Then there is the Radio Gang of 10: Rush, Sean, The Great One, Laura, Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Glenn Beck and yours truly. Beyond that a legion of single market but very key voices like Steve Deace in Iowa, Mike Rosen in Denver and many others who help make the political weather in some regions. Every day that one of the Gang of 15 speaks, each of these talkers – with three hours to fill on their hands – should have an electronic file of labeled clips arrive in their own and their producers’ in-boxes, ready to play to show off how hard that member of the Gang of 15 has been working.
The Gang of 15 should already each have a radio expert, familiar not just with the hosts but far more crucially, the producers of the radio world. They should be at their jobs already.
Hopefully every one of the 15 have handy a long list of influencers beginning with the two score center-right scribblers and pundits –from Brett Baier and Brit Hume to Dr. K, Megyn Kelly and Mary Katharine Ham and the bigs at Fox News, bookended by Greta and O’Reilly. There are the thinkers from the Wall Street Journal’s Gigot, Stevens Hennigner et al to the Weekly Standard power center of Kristol-Barnes-and-Hayes and the National Review gang from Lowry to K-Lo to Jonah and Geraghty, and Commentary’s J-Pod, Tobin, Rothman and Wehner and the Examiner’s front line of Barone, Carney, Klein, Tapscott and York. Pay particular attention to the under 30 rising stars like Ellison Barber, Guy P. Benson, Conn Carroll, David Freddoso, Elizabeth Harrington, James Hohmann, Adam Kredo, Lachlan Markay, Jeff Poor, Noah Rothman, Ben Shapiro, Jamie Weinstein. Older, still hugely influential reliables like Victor Davis Hanson, David Limbaugh, and of course Ann Coulter need to be welcomed into your circle if only for a small lunch or dinner.
Over at the Post, don’t forget Robert Costa because he won’t forget or miss you. Or his virtual seat mate Jennifer Rubin. Or the amiable Chris Cillizza, who like Mike Allen and the gang at Politico have to be tended to.
There’s Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit and Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit at Hot Air and the Powerline gang, Michelle and Ace, and of course the old guard who the older money guys and gals still look to so they don’t have to do the work of keeping up with the virtual mob: David Brooks, George Will, and, of course, Rove.
The machine has not been idling since November 6, 2012, but neither has it been focused, hungry, and ready to engage. Many of the subjects that consumed it were of an intramural variety, and not very important for the 24 months between now and Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond. But now the serious days are here, days when the Gang of 15 are expected to lead and to show up, and not merely for grips and grins, but with themes and ideas, facts and attacks, jokes and displays of new media savvy that will matter in the contests of the fall and the race against Hillary beyond.
Governor Christie knows this, and that’s why he gathered some of the young pundit guns for a get-to-know-me gathering. Shrewd that. Others have been working the phones to the slightly older commentariat –more good stuff.
Point is, it all matters, and everyone mentioned above and many more besides. Every day a new influencer is appearing out of thin air, simply willing themselves to matter in a new media world where it is possible. David Drucker, Charlie Spiering and Jonathan Strong and a score more of reporters who can crack stories instantly have to become part of your daily schedule. Many more are lined up behind them. Your “senior advisors” will long for the good old days when you could just call David Broder or Dan Balz and be done with it. Fire the first fellow who utters such a “I remember in ’76″ sentiment. The rules have completely changed. They have changed even from 2010 when this drama last opened. The newbies aren’t exactly in charge, but they are in a front rank of a thousand equals.
It is going to take an enormous, exhausting effort to win back the Senate and the White House and undo the damage done at home and abroad. The new year is opening amid chaos in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, with China pressing its naval claims and Putin pressing every hot button he can. The Gang of 15 have to be briefed every day on every issue and be in the fray articulating and defending a renewal of American greatness and growth.
Oh, and you need to write a book. Really. Enjoy the rest of the week. Have a fine time on New Year’s Eve (though it wouldn’t be a bad thing to show up in Times Square for a little bit of showmanship before the ball drops.) And then call your team together and ask to see the plan for engaging the vast, 24/7 opinion-mkaing machine that will decide ’14 and ’16. That plan should have names, cell phone numbers, and should be accompanied by the first of what ought to be a daily digest of what the center-right’s opinion machine is saying and asking.