- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 19, 2002

AUSTIN, Texas Former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot won unanimous election yesterday as the Republican Party's new national chairman.
In his acceptance speech to the 165-member Republican National Committee, Mr. Racicot called on Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, "to stop stalling and let the Senate vote on the president's bipartisan economic-stimulus package."
Mr. Racicot, a personal friend of President Bush, will serve out the remaining 11 months of former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III's two-year term as RNC chairman. Earlier, Mr. Gilmore had taken the podium to thank the members and staff for their contributions to the party and to formally announce his resignation as chairman, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. After offering words of praise for the man who was about to be his successor, Mr. Gilmore left the room to hurry back to Virginia.
Longtime RNC members said Mr. Racicot's speech was the best-delivered by any national chairman since the days when Haley Barbour held the position. But at a press conference after his speech, Mr. Racicot was peppered with questions about his having lobbied for the now-bankrupt Enron Corp. last year and his intention to continue taking a salary from a law firm that does lobbying in Washington.
Also elected by the RNC on a voice vote was New Jersey fund-raiser Lewis M. Eisenberg, who became the party's new national finance chairman. Some social conservatives on the committee had opposed him for the post because he had helped found the liberal, pro-choice Republican Leadership Council.
About a dozen RNC members said "no" to his election during the voice vote yesterday. Georgia Republican Chairman Ralph Reed and Texas Republican Chairman Susan Weddington, both conservatives, were absent from the room when the vote was taken.
Rivaling Mr. Racicot for the rapt attention of the members was White House chief political strategist Karl Rove. Mr. Rove vowed to continue and expand the grass-roots approach to winning elections that the Bush campaign and the state Republican parties have used in the 2000 elections.
"Karl Rove was tremendous today because he articulated exactly where we need to go as a party," said Indiana Republican Chairman Michael McDaniel.
The unexpected abruptness of Mr. Gilmore's announcement last month that he intended to resign led to Mr. Bush's picking Mr. Racicot as successor. At the time, Mr. Racicot said after he became RNC chairman he would continue to lobby for Bracewell & Patterson, a Texas law firm with an office in Washington. He later said he would not lobby, but would take a salary from the firm in lieu of the $150,000 the RNC position pays.
He declined yesterday to divulge his salary, but said it "isn't much more" than what the RNC job normally pays. Mr. McDaniel said Mr. Racicot's speech was "very strong, very structured, and that kind of organization and sincerity will be very powerful for him as national chairman."

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