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A Step Back, a Look in the Mirror, a Team Realignment

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Conference Chairwoman McMorris Rodgers is bolstering the communications team with a bevy of campaign staffers so as to broaden GOP media outreach to new audiences.

“Time and time again, what happens is the second generation starts to learn [English], and by the third generation often times they’ve lost their native tongue,” Mulvaney said.

On Hispanic outreach more broadly, Republicans are still debating what the political impact will be of media outreach, efforts to overhaul immigration policy and other initiatives.

In a recent New York Times magazine story, top Obama adviser David Plouffe said “the bigger problem [Republicans have] with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos.”

McMorris Rodgers said the first step is “making sure that Hispanics know that we care. It is reaching out to them and it is building some relationships with Hispanic leaders and the Hispanic community around this country. And making sure that they know there’s Hispanic members serving in the House. And being a part of the conversation on Hispanic television and radio and Facebook and Twitter.”

McMorris Rodgers is also trying to catalyze a dynamic office culture. Walls of the conference have recently been painted bright colors, giving the office the feel of an Internet startup. Others were treated with white board paint and a wall in the foyer is being turned into a chalkboard to let aides brainstorm on the walls.

Every week they have “Innovation Friday,” a chance for the staff to pitch new ideas to improve communication internally and externally. The office is also establishing one room as the “Innovation Lounge.”

In early February, the staff visited the Washington, D.C., offices of Facebook, Microsoft and Google, looking for ideas. They ended up instituting Facebook’s meeting policy, which authorizes staff to leave when the scheduled end of a meeting has arrived. No one has yet walked out of a meeting with McMorris Rodgers, however.

In contrast to the colored walls, Deutsch requires his male staffers wear ties during congressional recesses, prompting questions at meetings with casually dressed colleagues from other offices. He has urged the team to respond to reporters within 25 minutes “like Dominoes Pizza.”

One bump in the road came early on in McMorris Rodgers’ tenure, when she told Politico that Republicans might “shut down the government” to get Obama’s attention on spending cuts. That missive, surprisingly bold for her, hadn’t been planned in advance with other members of the leadership team, causing some heartburn.

“It was a question that I was asked and I gave a response as to where I thought we were at that point,” McMorris Rodgers said.

More recently, skepticism on the part of some of the other leadership offices has been replaced with praise for how diligently conference aides are working.

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