Many qualities are needed for success in politics, and “success” isn’t always universally agreed upon.
Yet it is the savvy realist who often emerges as an indispensable guru – especially for the minority party in the U.S. Congress.
Richard Viguerie is such a go-to analyst. He’s been at it a long time, and the conservative icon – a pioneer in direct-mail – is a voice sought out by those who want to see the GOP adopt a winning strategy. It’s a role that Viguerie quietly relishes.
“One of the genius traits of Ronald Reagan was that he combined different elements of the Republican Party,” Viguerie said.
Along with the prominent tea party movement, libertarians are an emerging force.
“This is not a natural part of Republican base, but it’s strong and growing and represents a large voting bloc,” he said.
Viguerie enjoys sizing up the potential 2016 candidates, and one name is never far from his lips.
“There’s no better way to deal with [pulling together factions] than Rand Paul. There’s more buzz about Rand Paul for president right now than anybody else. Currently, he’s more popular than all the others combined. It’s impressive, what he’s done to take charge to put together a national operation. He’s a very appealing candidate. There’s no grass growing under his feet.”
In his new book, “Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It,” Viguerie brings decades of experience to politics.
Get “Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It” from the WND Superstore.
“As I have documented throughout this book, the greatest impediment to conservative governance is not the Democrats and liberals – it is the progressive leadership of the Big Government Republican establishment in the halls of Congress, state houses and at Republican headquarters, especially at the Republican National Committee,” he said.
“To accomplish this vision, conservatives must change the way the Republican primary election game is played so as to give qualified, boat-rocking conservative candidates like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul far better chances of defeating establishment Republicans.”
Viguerie is convinced that neither Bush administration was capable of making its case to the American people, and he views this capability as critical for a presidential hopeful.
“I think Rand Paul does have this ability. He’s saying things, speaking clearly about specific issues. Young people have a certain appeal for libertarian issues, and Paul can speak to these,” he said.
Viguerie said a name not often mentioned on short lists of top-tier conservative candidates is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
“He definitely connects well with the average voter, and for most conservatives is a complete package,” he said.
Viguerie also offered a quick assessment of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
“She could be a major player if she wanted to, but her current inactivity doesn’t make it likely,” he said.
As one who doesn’t mind mixing it up politically, Viguerie sees one glaring weakness in recent GOP candidates.
“An important problem for Republican candidates is the tendency to run content-free campaigns. There’s no content in them. George Allen in Virginia – what was that race about? He started with 48 percent of the vote, and finished with 48 percent of the vote! No one could tell what the campaign was about,” he said.
Viguerie said that if a survey could be given to the average voter, titled “I should vote Republican because,” most couldn’t fill out the sentence.
“I have a number of themes in my book, but a major theme is that conservatives have had their political guns pointed at the wrong targets all these years,” he said. “This is literally a 102-year old war. But you’re going to lose a war if you don’t realize you’re in it. The GOP will not be going to the political promised land until we get new leaders.”
At 80, Viguerie says it’s no time for conservatives to panic. He has seen political power wax and wane for decades, noting there have been four, conservative-led major Republican victories in his lifetime.
“Hear this all the time, that leadership has no backbone. The average voter is looking at Rush, Hannity, the tea party, Rand Paul.
He said he doesn’t see major change coming after the 2016 election.
“It’s a step-by-step thing, and hopefully we’ll make major progress in 2014. Beyond 2016, odds do favor a limited government conservative being chosen to run,” he said. “If we work hard, it can happen. I’m going to lots and lots of meetings where people are strategizing how to take over the party. There’s energy like I haven’t seen in 52 years of working at the national level.”
It’s because of his steady, long-range view that Viguerie sees political silver linings, and he wants younger political leadership to take full advantage of them.
“Things have to get bad real quick for change to occur. Thanks to Obama, the water is boiling and the frogs are jumping out of the pot,” he said.
“But it’s not sufficient just to throw Dems out – you have to have people prepared to take the country in a different direction. That’s the tea party,” said Viguerie.
Viguerie knows the players, and he understands the stakes and strategies. He’s not ready to throw in the towel and cautions those who feel a RINO candidacy — a Republican in Name Only — is a fait accompli.
“It’s clear there’s another wave [of energized, conservative voters], and it could be a wave of tsunami proportions. But it’s very important we elect limited-government types!”
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