The Bhutanese heard from two senior party officials of both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee on their parties’ strategies for the upcoming 2016 United States Presidential race.
The Democratic Party has been leading in most major polls on the General Election outcome between the two parties, irrespective of who becomes the final candidate on each side.
An enthusiastic Democratic party Deputy Communication Director, Eric Walker, who conveyed that confidence, said that a lot of it has to do with President Obama’s track record especially when compared to the record of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
Walker and his colleagues in the DNC believe that they have a good Obama story to sell, which they feel will bolster the chances of the final nominee, which increasingly looks to be Hillary Clinton.
He touched on the historical achievements of the Democratic Party on areas like social security, civil rights, education reforms and anti-poverty programs.
Coming to the Obama Presidency, Walker said that Obama had rescued America from the 2008 crisis when millions were losing their jobs. He said that Obama created 14 mn jobs, carried out Wall Street regulatory reform, student loans reform and brought about the affordable care act which basically offered affordable health insurance to the poor.
He also highlighted Obama’s achievements in terms of strengthening emission standards in the USA and giving impetus to renewable energy to tackle climate change. Walker also talked about Obama’s achievement in bringing about better conditions for Lesbian, Gay and the Transgender people who by themselves form a sizeable and politically active voting bloc.
Walker also laid out a historical chart from 1989 onwards showing how unemployment rates had grown during Republican Presidencies and had fallen under Democratic Presidents.
He criticized the Bush Presidency years from 2001 to 2009, saying it resulted in an expensive war in Iraq and tax cuts for the rich which ate into public spending and added to the nation’s now substantial debt. He also said that the 2008 Wall Street crisis had happened under the watch of President Bush.
Pulling out an opinion poll slide the Deputy Communication Director showed how Obama is a much more internationally popular President then Bush which resulted in improving America’s image.
On the foreign policy front Walker highlighted achievements like the Iran nuclear deal, opening of Cuba, killing Osama Bin Laden and 30,000 other terrorists, winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Paris Climate change agreement.
He said that Obama’s approval rating is much better than President’s Bush’s was at around the same time.
In terms of the 2016 election the priorities for the Democratic Party are building on successful economic growth under Obama, higher minimum wage from 7.25 dollars an hour to 15 dollars, ensuring equal pay for women, paid leave, immigration reform, stopping gun violence and campaign finance reform.
Revealing the ‘Trump’ card of the Democratic party Walker predictably focused on the Republican front runner quoting some unfavorable poll numbers and how difficult it would be for Trump in the general election round.
Trump meanwhile inched closer to being the Republican nominee winning five states on yet another super Tuesday with wins in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island. This takes his total delegate count to around 987 with 1,237 being the number required to clinch the nomination.
On the other hand Sean Spicer, the Chief Strategist and Communications Director of the Republican National Committee (RNC) was in a more complicated position, because the Republican establishment is largely not known to be in favour of the frontrunner, Donald Trump.
Trump in recent days has also publicly criticized the RNC establishment for favoring Ted Cruz and John Kasich. Interestingly, as Spicer spoke Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced that they would focus on states that they are strong in indicating an informal agreement to work together to stop Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination.
However, at the same time the RNC has at least publicly maintained its neutrality to preserve party unity.
Sean Spicer dodged many questions on various controversial statements by Donald Trump and what it would mean for the party, and only chose to say that the party would work closely with whoever is the final nominee. This was code for saying that they would try and moderate Trump if he became the Republican candidate.
Spicer spent the majority of his time focusing on lessons learnt by the RNC from the 2012 Obama Campaign. For instance he alluded to Obama’s better ground game in 2012.
He stressed that it was more important for Republican candidates to engage more with people including some special effort being needed for Obama’s key support base among African Americans and Latinos.
He said that the RNC had earlier shortened the nomination process to better consolidate support and raise funds. The RNC also took control of the number of debates reducing them from 24 in 2012 to 12 in 2016. However, Spicer failed to mention that many of the recent debates were cancelled by Trump’s refusal to participate.
Spicer pointed out that the Republican Party was far from being in a weakened position as they controlled not only both the houses but the majority of the state governors and state legislatures. He also said that in the 2008 election the energy was on the Democratic Party’s side with the clash between Obama and Hillary. He claimed that this time around the energy was on the Republican side with higher turnouts especially in key battleground states.
Spicer also tore into the Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton saying that she faced very high negatives for the general election. He said, “She us seen as untrustworthy, corrupt, manipulative and with a different sets of rules.”
He said that even an old 74 year old socialist like Bernie Sanders was doing well. He talked of how Hillary charged up to 250,000 USD per speech from Wall Street and made money of her influence with her family wealth now being around 180 mn USD.
In response to a question Spicer said that the Republican Party is not an elitist one as the majority of people attending Republican rallies are ordinary blue collar workers. He said that instead there were many billionaires who backed democrats.
Spicer claimed that that the Democrats did a better job of sounding emphatic while the RNC was more mathematical in balancing the budget and bringing about reform programs.