The Washington Times - April 15, 2009, 07:33AM


Call it the GOP’s effort in financial creativity. Raising money as a minority status party in the middle of a recession after a rapid succession of media mistakes and messaging gaffes, is no easy task. Yet, the Republican National Committee’s new chairman has found a niche that focuses on caffeine addicts (we know who we are.)

Launching a “Coast-to-Coast Tour” of “Coffees with Chairman Michael Steele,” the idea is to give up your daily coffee for a week and use the money you would’ve spent on that cup of joe to write a check to the RNC. It’s called the 12-man (as in football team) program. For their sake, I hope the women they’re targeting are also football fans like me. It may sound like a gimmick but it’s paying off. For the past three months, the RNC has consistently outraised the DNC 3-to-1, with February totals at $5.5 million. That’s no chump change. March numbers, expected to be equally impressive, will be out soon.

Despite the so-called problems Republicans have been having as of late, you can’t tell that to the grassroots. It’s not the millionaire “Mavericks” or “Regents” who are consistenly filling the coffers with fat checks (though those certainly help too) but the small, everyday $25, $50, $100 donors who are “the lifeblood” of the party, says RNC Communications Director Trevor Francis.

“Small donations are a way for gettting grassroots involved.”

Okay, so you can’t give coffee (or lack thereof) all the credit. Officials also point to the shifting tide of Independents and Obamacans who are beginning to recognize the error of their ways.

“We’re a few months removed from an election where Republicans didn’t fair well.. There is some dissatisfaction from Washington about the direction of the country.” 

Still, the GOP’s message seems a bit foggy to those could-be Republicans the party is also hoping to court. During a Chicago stop last night Chairman Steele told the audience:

“Our coast-to-coast tour is the beginning of our efforts to provide a point of entry for new supporters and create long term incentives for ongoing membership and participation.”

Francis explains that the message is one that “underscores one of the central tenents of reaching every community that have not been part of the RNC’s coalitions” and one that gets folks “fired up and engaged.” Again, a little foggy. But time will tell whether it resonates.

While avoiding the temptation to be brag-a-docious and certainly not measuring themselves by DNC standards (that’s what pundits are for) the RNC remains “optimistic” about the direction fundraising efforts are going thus far.

In the meantime, these novelty cups you get for “givin it up” are pretty cool (or hot if you prefer.)


Tara Wall is deputy editor at the Washington Times and editor of