The Making of a President, 1975-2012

If George Washington was the father of our country in the 18th century, and Abraham Lincoln was the greatest, most consequential leader of the 19th century, then the greatest statesman of the 20th century was Great Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

In spite of his vast experience in public life, Churchill was not universally loved in Great Britain.  During the 1930s he was a “voice in the wilderness,” warning of the dangers of Nazi Germany and campaigning relentlessly for rearmament.  At the outbreak of World War II, Churchill was openly critical of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s disastrous appeasement of Hitler at their Munich summit in September 1938.  Churchill argued, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor.  You chose dishonor, and you will have war.”  Chamberlain resigned on May 10, 1940 and Churchill became Britain’s wartime Prime Minister.

Now, in the first decades of the 21st century, as the American people confront an evil of equal or even greater magnitude… not a military threat imposed by external forces, but a fast growing leftist cancer generated internally by Barack Obama and other forces of the left… we must trust to Providence that a leader of Churchill’s stature will arise to lead us back from the abyss.

That job can only be done by a man of unique capabilities… one who sees the future as clearly as he sees the past, a man who understands that the federal deficit can only by eliminated by a growing economy, a man whose knowledge of foreign and domestic affairs is so complete that he strikes fear in the hearts of the greatest orators and teleprompter readers the Democratic Party has to offer.  That man is former Speaker Newt Gingrich who, because of the magnitude of the task that lies ahead, is the only man with the knowledge, the vision, the breadth and depth of experience, and the fearless determination to do what must be done, regardless of consequences.  And while, like Churchill, he is not the most universally loved man in American politics, he is destined to be America’s answer to Winston Churchill in the 21st century.

As matters now stand, Gingrich has the capacity to clinch the nomination before Super Tuesday on March 6.  And in the absence of an unforeseeable game-changing event, he will be nominated on the first ballot in Tampa and will defeat Barack Obama in November in a humiliating defeat of landslide proportions.  As Gingrich has predicted, late in the evening of November 6, when the final votes are in and Obama has conceded defeat, the U.S. economy will immediately begin to heal.  Consumer confidence will begin to return, and a new Era of Good Feeling will emerge.

Gingrich entered electoral politics in 1974 as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.  He lost that election, as well as a rematch in 1976, but won the seat on his third try in 1978.  After creating the “Conservative Opportunity” caucus in 1983, he was elected Minority Whip in 1989, the second most powerful Republican leadership position.  In 1994 he promoted a list of ten major issues, packaged as the Contract with America, which he and other Republicans promised to bring to a vote in the first 100 days of the 104th Congress.  Republicans gained a total of 54 House seats, the first Republican House majority since 1954, and Gingrich ascended to the Speakership.

It is clear that the political stars in 1994 were all in perfect alignment, but what was it that made the so-called Republican Revolution possible?  Things like that just don’t happen by accident.

The first foundation stone for the 1994 Republican Revolution was laid on March 10, 1975 when, as a government relations executive with the Sun Oil Company (Sunoco), in Philadelphia, I was able to win board approval to create and register the very first corporate political action committee (PAC) with the newly-appointed Federal Election Commission (FEC).

In the wake of the Watergate scandal, the era of the “fat cat” contributor came to an abrupt end, and with the $2,000 individual contribution limit ($5,000 for business and labor PACs) imposed by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974, wealthy individuals could no longer contribute huge sums to individual candidates.  However, the legalization of corporate and labor PACs, made possible by AFL-CIO-sponsored amendments to the 1974 reform act, provided a unique opportunity.  Upon reading the new law, it was immediately evident that, in the process of making themselves legal for the first time since the 1930s, the leaders of organized labor had made themselves vulnerable to a major political coup by the business community.

If we could win an official advisory opinion from the FEC, approving our plan to solicit political contributions from mid-level managers and executives (a previously un-tapped demographic in political fundraising) through payroll deductions, and approving the solicitation of contributions from shareholders, using deductions from annual dividend checks, corporate America could meet organized labor on a “level playing field” for the first time in many decades.

SunPAC was registered with the FEC on July 7, 1975, along with a request for an official advisory opinion.  The request was strongly opposed by every leftist organization in America, including the Democratic Party, the AFL-CIO, the UAW, the major teachers’ unions, the League of Women Voters, Ralph Nader, and most of the mainstream media.  Following months of public debate on the front pages of every major newspaper, and in every major news magazine, the FEC voted 4-2 to approve the requested advisory opinion, AO 1975-23.

In a speech before the National Association of Manufacturers in New York in December 1975, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was quoted as saying that, “The SunPAC decision of the Federal Election Commission is probably the single most significant political development of the 20th century because it will ultimately change the political map of the entire country.”

In the months and years that followed, a great many corporations followed Sun’s lead.  By 1980, when Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate for the first time since 1953, more than 1,000 corporate PACs had been registered with the FEC.  Conservative candidates, who had previously been defeated because they could not compete with labor-funded Democrats in the chase for campaign funds, had the funds necessary to run competitive campaigns.

Later, in 1983, the newly-appointed chairman of the Republican National Committee, Frank Fahrenkopf, asked my advice on the most important task that he could undertake during his tenure as RNC chairman.  I suggested that there could be no more important task than to prevent Democrats from gerrymandering every congressional district in the country in 1991, following the 1990 census.  To accomplish that, I recommended the formation of a special committee at the RNC charged with the responsibility to funnel money into targeted states, during the decade of the ‘80s, where Republicans had a chance of gaining control of at least one house of the state legislature prior to the 1991 redistricting.

Within weeks the National Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (NRLCC) was created.  When the NRLCC was established in 1983, the GOP shared legislative control with Democrats in just 4 states.  By 1991, Republicans enjoyed split control with Democrats in 11states and held majority control in both house of the legislature in 9 more.  It was an improvement sufficient to insure fairly-drawn congressional districts in at least 20 states.

If the funds had not been available to fuel the campaigns of conservatives and Republicans across the country… a long-standing problem resolved by the FEC’s SunPAC decision of 1975… would it have been possible for Republicans to win control of both houses of Congress just two years into the presidency of Bill Clinton, the most popular Democratic president since JFK?  Probably not.  And would it have been possible for Republicans to take control of Congress in 1994, if Democrats had been given free rein with congressional redistricting all across America in 1991?  It is highly unlikely.

It was these two major political developments… the exponential growth of corporate political committees following the SunPAC decision of the FEC, and the ability of the NRLCC to funnel money into states where Republicans had a chance of winning control of at least one house of the state legislature… that were the foundation stones of the Republican Revolution of 1994.

Had Republicans not gained control of Congress in 1994, Newt Gingrich would not have become Speaker.  And in the absence of his major successes as Speaker… welfare reform, congressional reform, budget surpluses, and debt reduction… would he be the commanding figure he is today… on his way to becoming the 45th President of the United States?  Again, the answer is probably not.  He would likely be a former back-bencher whose name few Americans would recognize.

And now, as Newt Gingrich stands at the crossroads of history, more than likely the man who will ultimately hold the fate of our nation in his hands, I find myself contemplating the question of our purpose on Earth.  Are we put here for a purpose?  As the principal architect of the two major political developments that served as the foundation stones for the Republican Revolution of 1994, was I intended from conception to be the groom who stands beside the horse, fingers laced together, waiting to give Speaker Gingrich a leg up into the saddle?

It represents a bit of history that is unlikely to ever appear in the pages of our history books.  But, as Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

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2 Responses to The Making of a President, 1975-2012

  1. Maurice Clements says:

    Paul is presenting Newt Gingrich as the potential savior of our country during a time when we seem to be plunging toward a socialist/fascist state. He pictures Newt as a conservative who is trying to stem the tide toward statism. If so, why did Newt agree with Nancy Pelosi that we need to take action against the danger of global warming?Why did he favor the original TARP bills as a means of stabilizing our economy? Why did he favor the individual mandates for health care, a position conservatives oppose?
    Why did he act as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freedie Mac during their calamitous reign of fiscal irresponsibility during the real estate boom and bust? When asked many years ago, who was his political hero. he answered Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This man is no convervative and if elected will conjtinue our nation toward economic disaster. He is a proponet of the warfare, welfare state and should be exposed as such.
    Maurice Clements

  2. Lloyd says:

    Paul, I initially was a big Gingrich supporter, but that was before he opened his mouth in support of Obamacare. Honestly, I don’t think we really know what we have with Gingrich right now, and that’s not the situation we want to be in with a presidential candidate. I am sick unto death at voting for the least repugnant option available.

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