GOP Trying to See How Far It Can Go In General Election Without Being Called Racist or Sexist

It’s easy to see why the GOP wants to avoid one thing more than any other in the general election campaign: “undisciplined messaging.” You say you don’t know what that is? Neither did I until Politico explained it.

Republicans know more than one election is at stake if they appear racist or sexist toward the eventual Democratic nominee. But since they really want to attack Obama for being black and/or Clinton for being female, it’s important to know where the line is and to stay just a hair this side of it.

The Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate

The Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate, according to people involved. The secretive effort underscores the enormous risk senior GOP operatives see…

…Republicans should expect a severe backlash if they say or do anything that smacks of politicizing race or gender. They didn’t need an expensive poll to learn that lesson, however.

Or maybe they did. Whereas you or I could just tap a coworker, neighbor, or — dare I say it — friend for some input, evidently your average Republican is just a bit more, shall we say, insulated.

“You can’t run against Barack Obama the way you could run against Bill Clinton, Al Gore or John Kerry,” said Jack Kemp, the 1996 GOP vice presidential nominee, who expressed concern that the party could be reduced to an “all white country club party” if it does not tread cautiously.

Reduced to an all white country club party? I thought they cultivated that image and wore it like a big, shiny Girl Scout badge on a sash slung over their jackets. And I’m not the only one who thought so.

Republicans interviewed for this story uniformly believe they will have to be especially careful. Many expect to be held to a higher rhetorical standard than is customary in campaigns, in part because of perceptions of intolerance that still dog the party.

“Fair or unfair, but that’s going to be a reality,” said GOP strategist John Weaver, a longtime confidant of John McCain. “The P.C. [politically correct] police will be out and the standards will be very narrow.”

Don’t you just love it when the people who gave us such terms as “faith-based initiatives” instead of “state-funded religion” and “low food security” instead of “hunger” and now, “undisciplined messaging” instead of “racism and sexism,” complain about the “P.C. police” (instead of “people offended by insults”)?

The real problem for Republicans is that they’re going to have to come out from the shadows this time and they don’t know how to make a case without insinuation meant to push fear buttons. Pointing out Clinton is a woman or that Obama fathered a black child is anticlimactic. What else you got, GOP?

2 Comments

  • Dee Loralei
    February 25, 2008 - 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I asked down thread if you had heard about this As soon as it posted, I saw this. I truly hope I get called by one of these pollsters. And I’ll lie through my teeth and say not at all offended, no matter what they ask. Let’s call it the reverse Bradley effect.

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