The Republican National Committee is holding its spring meeting this week in a hotel in the heart of Hollywood. As these sorts of events go, this one has generated more speculation about the GOP’s rationale for choosing to meet in a place that is home to an industry Republicans revile, and vice versa, than it has actual news coverage on local outlets.
So what was RNC Chairman Reince Priebus thinking when he decided to hold his spring meeting behind enemy lines?
The answer comes from Beltway insider Politico.com, which notes that a key criticism in the Republican National Committee’s aptly nicknamed 2012 election “autopsy” report released last month was that the “party is seen as old and detached from pop culture.” To counter this, the autopsy committee recommended that the GOP “establish an RNC Celebrity Task Force of personalities in the entertainment industry to host events for the RNC and allow donors to participate in entertainment events as a way to attract younger voters.”
Preibus’ decision to hold the meeting in Hollywood appears to have been the first step in the party’s celebrity outreach — and, if so, this first step has clearly been an abysmal, even laughable failure, so much so that Priebus is now denying that reaching out to celebrities had anything to do with his choice of Hollywood as the meeting site.
When asked when the task force would be implemented, Priebus said, “I don’t know … I don’t believe that I’ve discussed publicly or at any meeting … the Celebrity Task Force.”
Okay, so then why meet in Hollywood? “I decided California [as the venue] because it’s been a blue state that people think we’ve written off,” Priebus said. “I knew that if we came to California, we could really get a serious discussion about how to reach out to Hispanics and Asians.”
That is nonsense, of course. If the RNC really wanted to appeal to California Hispanics and Asians, they would have met in Anaheim or San Diego, not Los Angeles or Hollywood, both of which are Democratic Party bastions.
And the GOP has written off California. It would be stupid not to. Any serious run for statewide office here would have to be funded by the national party because the state GOP has been bankrupt for years. In 2010, for example, the national party wasted millions on Carly Fiorina’s quixotic campaign to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer only to watch Fiorina go down in defeat by double digits. Democrats hold every statewide office as well as veto-proof majorities in both houses of the legislature. GOP voter registration is now below 30 percent, the lowest it has been since the Republican Party was founded over 160 years ago.
Here, from Politico, is a measure of how abysmally Priebus has been at attracting youth-oriented celebrities to the meeting in order to create buzz in news outlets that young people read:
Courtney King, identified as an “actress” on the schedule, appeared on a panel later in the afternoon about “winning the women’s vote.” But it’s not clear who she is or what she has appeared in.
The biggest Hollywood celebrity to come by the meeting was Julianne Hough, a two-time champion of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” She came to see her father, Utah Republican national committeeman Bruce Hough. At least one committeeman asked her to pose for a photo with him.
IMDB lists seven entries for actresses named Courtney King. The most recent movies in which these women have appeared include “Trailerpark” (2010) and “The Tale of the Possessed Pick” (2013).
There are movie stars who are Republicans — Clint Eastwood leaps to mind — but others include Vince Vaughn, Chuck Norris, Bo Derek, Fred Thompson, Kelsey Grammar, Patricia Heaton, Tony Danza, Adam Sandler, Heather Locklear, Joan Rivers, Shannen Doherty and Kirk Cameron. Presumably, they were all filming ads for Depends this week and were unable to attend.
Republicans have been able to make a little national news at the spring meeting, of course. On Friday, committee members voted to adopt a resolution opposing marriage equality that was sponsored by Michigan RNC official Dave Agema, who made headlines in advance of the meeting by opining that gays have a “filthy lifestyle and the children need to be educated about the dangers of that lifestyle in order to “preserve their health and avoid cutting off about 15-20 years of their life span.”
So much for appealing to the younger crowd. And speaking of fossils, the RNC did fly in a celebrity of sorts. The GOP’s most beloved living war criminal, Dick Cheney, was flown in to give an address at a luncheon.