GOP Leaders Build New Home for Moderates

February 23rd, 2010 at 3:43 pm | 10 Comments |

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A new center-right think-tank is launching into the partisan-torn D.C. political scene. Helmed by Republican bigwigs — including Norm Coleman, mind Jeb Bush, and Tom Ridge — the American Action Project promises to reach out to moderate conservatives and conservative independents.

Yesterday, former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin and former Eric Cantor Chief of Staff Rob Collins announced the launch of a new “action-tank” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

With political superstars like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former ambassador to the E.U. Boyden Gray and former Senator Mel Martinez on their board, this new project will wield considerable political clout especially as Washington gears up for the upcoming 2010 congressional races and 2012 presidential election.

In a town where the dialogue has become increasingly polarized, the “action-tank” will try to build a center-right coalition using a big-tent philosophy. Coming in the wake of Glenn Beck’s CPAC keynote, where he asserted that conservatives didn’t need to reach out to a big tent, the American Action project appears to be a breath of fresh air.

The center-right is a “very broad spectrum,” acknowledged Chairman Fred Malek, noting that their new project would view “politics [as] a game of addition, not subtraction.”

Their project consists of two sister organizations: the American Action Forum, a policy arm led by Holtz-Eakin, and the American Action Network, a political arm led by Collins.

The AA Forum, the policy arm, was created to reflect the diversity of ideas on the center-right – to refine and contribute ideas with an eye on developing events.

The AA Network, the political arm, will be charged with engaging with lawmakers and the general public, especially students. “We’ll engage with American citizens through citizen gatherings, new media, old media, social networking and other means to generate support to turn center-right ideas into action.”

In an exclusive interview with FrumForum, American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin said that their goal would be to develop “time-sensitive and relevant” policy. The implication is that the Forum will be acting more swiftly than other local think-tanks, with emphases on online mediums (watch the entire interview below).

Particularly intriguing is the development of an interactive policy wiki, where Americans can contribute to American Action’s policy papers. This will allow for the group to “engage [Americans] in policy development, not just deliver it to them.”

The American Action Network will not be reinventing the internet, but rather focusing on recognizing new trends in social interaction and viral marketing, said President Rob Collins:

More Americans spend time on Facebook than they do [on traditional media]… social media has become the dominant way to communicate… finding those social interactions and hot points are where we start. The idea of building a central website and expecting that we’re going to have a million hits a day are a goal… but we have to go through search engines, ideological blogging and find the right mix for us to create a viral network.

There is no doubt that the American Action project will have a tough time breaking into the D.C. scene. Carving out an audience in a city that already has five big think-tanks (AEI, Heritage, CATO, Brookings, Center for American Progress) will take considerable work, as the AA teams will face considerable difficulty in finding technological and policy niches that aren’t already filled.

On the other hand, these groups are being led by reputable and intelligent individuals who value the power of ideas and know how to influence political change. We wish them the best of luck!


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10 Comments so far ↓

  • mlloyd

    Who’s Fred Malek? … [T]o make a long story short, though Malek is most infamous for the fact that on Richard Nixon’s behest he compiled a list of Jews working at the Bureau of Justice Statistics so that the paranoid and anti-semitic president could keep tabs on alleged conspiracies against him. But there’s really much more! He helped politicize the administration of justice all up and down the land, bailing out racist universities and corrupt unions and everything in between.

  • LauraNo

    I’m no expert but that bunch of men do not some like moderates. Or was this playing the republican game of naming something other than what it is? Center-right in this case is not going to be moderate at all. Norm Coleman? Fred Malek? Tom Ridge? They do sound like white men so that’s still the same, anyway.

  • Carney

    The Squish Squad has formed! Never fear America! Watered-down, weak-sister policies are headed your way!

  • BoolaBoola

    In what world is Jeb Bush a moderate??? He’s FAR right-wing.

  • Carney

    BoolaBoola, Jeb is a supporter of amnesty for illegal aliens, and massive legal immigration.

  • Mandos

    A new home for moderates? Assuming they are, to do what, exactly? It’s never really been very clear. Aside from delicious, delicious war, it’s never exactly been clear what policy these moderates are supposed to be standing for.

  • Paleoconservative

    Forget the moderates and the neocons. Its time they left.

    And stop all that foreign aid to Israel immediately. No need for billions of dollars of American taxpayer money to go down the drain like that.


    Remember Charles Lindberg’s historic speech on 9-11 many years before?

  • franco 2


  • DFL

    Any organization redolent of the Bush name should frighten conservatives of all stripes. The shelf life of the Bush family is toxic. Hammer a stake through LoserPac’s heart.

    As for Fred Malek- he’s been around forever and is a political prostitute of the same character as David Keene, Grover Norquist and Ed Gillespie. When these sorts support a position, you always have to wonder who is paying them.

  • GOProud

    DFL, I think you need to coordinate comments in the threads with your alter-ego, TeaBagged. You guys seem to be even more psychotic and split than usual these days.

    What Tim fails to point out is that it is now the trend for nearly every out-of-work political animal to band together with like-minded political animals, set up an organization dedicated to A, B or C issues, seek corporate sponsorship, find comfort and financial success in using said organization to push new books, speaking engagements, etc.

    Morris, Kemp, Gingrich, Lott, Simpson, Whitman —lots of folks on both sides of the aisle have done it. About the only one to fail at it was Bob Barr –and that says a lot.

    Nothing new here. Give ‘em 4 yrs and let’s see if they have legs and success; that’ll tell us a lot more.