GOP strategist: Reagan is dead; move on
By Molly K. Hooper - 12/01/13 06:26 AM EST
A Republican strategist is reminding his party that President Reagan is dead.
Ford O'Connell, who worked on Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, says if Republicans want to win the White House in 2016, they need to break free of the "obsessive Reagan disorder."
Rule #1 of the political analyst's newly released book, "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery," is: "Ronald Reagan is dead. Accept it."
Such a sentiment is sure to be tough to digest for a party insistent on using the 40th president's legacy as a GOP litmus test to prove conservative credentials.
"The Reagan fixation is a drag on the future success of the GOP at the national level. It undermines the candidates because it becomes a crutch for their inability to articulate an actual agenda or a forward-looking vision," he writes.
In an interview with The Hill, O'Connell says he combines his "two loves: politics and football" into his work “Hail Mary,” a sort-of political manual for presidential hopefuls.
The native Texan contends that he is "not pushing a personal agenda" in his blunt "playbook."
He says it is aimed squarely at the 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, whom he handicaps in a chapter entitled “2016 Republican Presidential Scouting Report."
"This was an honest attempt to say, 'Hey, if you want to win the White House, you've got to understand the obstacles and what it's going to take to get 270 electoral votes, regardless of who the nominee is," O'Connell explains.
The book is geared toward political success at the national level, not the 2014 midterm congressional elections, a point he makes in Rule #9 "The Preseason Doesn't Win You the Super Bowl."
O'Connell says that Republicans failed to capitalize on the 2010 midterm election success when the GOP regained control of the House and cut into the Democratic majority in the Senate.
Football analogies comprise a quarter of the "rules," or "plays," that O'Connell presents for his audience.
Among the book's 10 rules or "winning plays": "Stop Giving a S--t About Obama's Birthplace," "Hug the Gays (No, Really)" and "Kill Immigration Reform, Kill the GOP."
The GOP strategist says that his party's future standard-bearer needs to think outside the Washington Beltway box.
In "Rule #7: It's All About the Q," O'Connell says that "reaching out to a wide variety of television shows, magazines, cable channels, and publications (essentially more than just Fox News) means reaching more of the electorate and becoming a familiar presences in their homes."
Even though the tome is aimed at non-political types outside the nation's capital, O'Connell hopes that "influencers" inside the Beltway consider his "big picture" thinking.