- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2002

AUSTIN, Texas Ralph Reed has turned down a request by national party leaders to nominate Lewis M. Eisenberg as the Republican Party's national finance chairman, party officials said.

Mr. Reed, chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, originally had accepted the request, pending consultation with other conservatives, to make the nomination today, the second full day of the Republican National Committee's annual winter meeting here.

Mr. Eisenberg is a prominent New Jersey fund-raiser and founder of the liberal, pro-choice Republican Leadership Council. Pro-life Republicans say the RLC's aim is to purge them from the party by raising money for liberal Republican candidates.

Mr. Reed decided not to make the nomination after obtaining advice from RNC members and conservative leaders.

Another conservative RNC member, Michael L. Retzer of Mississippi, said he would make the nomination instead.

"Lew Eisenberg has an outstanding record of raising money for Republican candidates and the Republican Party," Mr. Retzer said when asked why he had agreed to substitute for Mr. Reed.

Mr. Retzer said the displeasure of some social conservatives over Mr. Eisenberg is "misplaced because it's the proper role for liberals in our party to raise money to support the goals and achievements of the conservative wing of the party. As [former Republican National Committee Chairman] Haley Barbour used to tell me, this is the party of the big tent."

Efforts by some social conservatives on the 165-member RNC to block Mr. Eisenberg's expected election today as chief party fund-raiser appeared to have fizzled, some pro-life RNC members privately said.

With a Republican president, the White House has de facto control of the RNC. Some committee members said privately they were torn between wanting to stand up for conservative principles and not wanting to embarrass President Bush.

Opponents were planning to force a roll-call vote of the whole RNC on the Eisenberg election today, though the election of Mr. Eisenberg, who with his wife, Judy, attended a private RNC executive meeting here yesterday, still seemed certain.

The Traditional Values Coalition, the Family Research Council and Phyllis Schlafly's Republican National Committee for Life were among the conservative organizations that faxed and e-mailed Republicans across the country yesterday to register their complaints about Mr. Eisenberg.

Colleen Parro, the Republican National Committee for Life executive director, contacted what her allies said were "tens of thousands" of pro-life Republicans and urged them to telephone their opposition to Mr. Eisenberg.

Eisenberg supporters here, however, pointed out that he had contributed money to such pro-life conservatives as Attorney General John Ashcroft during his unsuccessful 2000 Senate re-election campaign and to Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Also yesterday, underscoring its effort to reach out to Hispanic voters, the committee announced "a program intended to help Republicans across the country learn to speak Spanish."

The RNC will pay the tuition for state Republican Party chairmen and press secretaries referred to as "state party spokespeople" in "key target states" to attend a 10-day Spanish-language immersion course at the Berlitz Language Center in Washington, D.C.

"We are serious about reaching out to Hispanics and bringing more diversity to the Republican Party," Deputy Republican National Committee Chairman Jack Oliver said.

The RNC also announced the appointment of former Bush presidential campaign spokesman Mindy Tucker as communications director. After Mr. Bush's election, she was named chief spokeswoman for Mr. Ashcroft.

The RNC named Terry Nelson former National Republican Congressional Committee's political director as deputy chief of staff and executive director of political operations. Blaise Hazelwood was announced as the RNC's new political director.

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