Who better to get the Republican Party out of the basement than the folks who put them there?
Republicans looking to recover from Bush-era defeats are turning to an unlikely source for advice: top aides to former President George W. Bush.
Former White House press secretary Dana Perino, former Bush counselor Ed Gillespie and former White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto are among those set to provide words of wisdom to House Republican press secretaries at their annual workshop this Friday.
GOP House Conference Communications Director Matt Lloyd said Perino, Gillespie and Fratto represented “the gold standard for Republican communications professionals” and were obvious choices to advise the party’s messengers.
But Democrats are deriding the move to bring in the Bush veterans, calling it proof that the GOP has failed to recognize that Bush’s policies are at least partly to blame for the party’s minority status.
“Reuniting the Bush operation is like making a sequel to a very bad movie. House Republicans are better off staying home, watching soaps and coming up with new ideas for their out-of-touch party,” said Doug Thornell, spokesman for Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
The Bush vets, for their part, couldn’t disagree more. In fact, they say their turbulent White House years make them uniquely suited to advise a House Republican Conference stuck in a nearly 80-seat minority.
“We are battle-tested,” said Perino, who was Bush’s last press secretary.
Fratto, who spent three years as Bush’s deputy press secretary, cited his experience “being in an actual duel with the slings and arrows from Congress.”
Fratto said he wanted to put the House press secretaries in a campaign-style mind-set and would encourage the staffers to do their jobs with an eye toward winning House seats in 2010.
Lloyd called the workshop — which also includes former Reagan speechwriter Tony Dolan and Mitt Romney presidential campaign strategist Mindy Finn — an integral part of the GOP’s renewed focus on communications.
“The press secretary workshop is one more tool in our belt that we are using to ensure press secretaries continue to get their members the most coverage possible, which in turn drives the Republican message across the country,” Lloyd said.
What Republican message? Failure iz us? Follow us and fall into a tar pit?