Sen. DeMint’s background is in market research and communications and it looks like he’s going to bring this expertise to his new position (as of April 2013) as president of The Heritage Foundation. He’s already announced his intention to focus on communicating the conservative message to the American people in a much more effective way. Today Breitbart News posted an interview in which they asked him about a Republican 5-member panel that is going to audit the party’s messaging during the campaign (about which I can’t find anything except in the Breitbart piece). DeMint had this to say:
I’ll see what they do, but we’re going to do that [auditing the campaign] at Heritage and we’re not just going to do an analysis of other pols. We’re going to go out and do our own research. I know you can’t just ask people what they think, unless you give them cues. Like, what do you think of the word conservative. You can ask them if they call themselves conservative or not. 40% call themselves conservative, but you don’t know what the other 60% think about it. They may not like the word, but they may be conservatives.
I just see, looking at the political handling from the Republican side is so amateurish compared to even what I was doing in marketing fifteen years ago, before I came to Congress. And the ability is there to be so much more sophisticated in targeting markets, segmenting and communicating with them individually.
Then the interviewer (Mike Flynn) asked why Republicans aren’t as good as they used to be at targeting. DeMint replied:
Well, I think we tend to put political people into positions where we should have CEOs who know how to run things. When you’re running a big organization its not the time for red meat for the grass roots. Its the time to make good people around you with good data. And, there are some groups out there beginning to do that…the expertise is out there.
Yup. Exactly right. The interview has caused conniption fits among the great and the good. Jennifer Rubin titles a blog post at the Washington Post DeMint will need to watch what he says.
It’s true that he can’t politick, as in promote candidates and political parties, from his position at Heritage, because it’s a tax-exempt foundation. I’m certain that’s not what DeMint is talking about. Yesterday on WMAL’s morning show he said his goal will be to win the hearts and minds of the people — for conservative ideas, not the Republican Party. Some people have party politics so much on the brain that they don’t see that principles are upstream from party affiliation. So in a nutshell: Promoting conservative ideas and criticizing the Republican Party for their sorry efforts to do the same does not equal promoting the Republican Party. I left a comment at Rubin’s post to that effect.