The Agenda

The Secret Private RNC Call

Yahoo! has assembled an impressive team of left-of-center reporters and bloggers for its original news content services, so there’s something more than a little funny about the fact that one member of its team, reporter Rachel Hartman, was included in a private RNC strategy call. 

So what did these top RNC staffers say when they thought no one was around to listen? 

“We’re hesitant to jump on board with heavy attacks” personally against President Obama, Nicholas Thompson, the vice president of Tarrance Group, a Republican polling firm, said on the call. “There’s a lot of people who feel sorry for him.”

Recent polling data indicates that while the president still suffers significantly low job approval ratings, voters still give “high approval” to Obama personally, Thompson said. Voters “don’t think he’s an evil man who’s out to change the United States” for the worse–even though many of the same survey respondents agree that his policies have harmed the country, Thompson said. The upshot, Thompson stressed, is that Republicans should “exercise some caution” when talking about the president personally.

And then Ari Fleischer said that Republicans should turn the flip-flopping charge levied against Mitt Romney and to a lesser extent Newt Gingrich back onto Democrats.

I have to say, this is all pretty PG-13. The analysis is about what you’d expect from someone who reads Politico as often as two or maybe even three times a week. I’d much rather listen in on how the DNC and the big independent expenditure groups on the left are trying to shape the outcome of the GOP primary. Sadly for me, I imagine the DNC is much more cautious about who is and is not allowed on calls. Robert Costa or Jim Geraghty are probably not high on the list. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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