Jack Abramoff

Senior Director of Government Affairs, Greenberg Traurig

CRNC National Chairman, 1981-85

Jack Abramoff's practice focuses on building legislative coalitions, grassroots organizing and Washington, DC based lobbying efforts. Jack is considered a top issues strategist. He has been consistently named as one of the nation's most powerful and effective lobbyists in rankings by publications including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, National Journal, Roll Call and Washingtonian Magazine. Jack is directly involved in the Republican party and conservative movement leadership structures and is one of the leading fund raisers for the party and its congressional candidates. He is a former executive director of President Ronald Reagan's grassroots lobbying organization, Citizens For America, where he directed and crafted lobbying efforts on a broad range of issues. Jack also had a direct role in shaping the agenda of the second Reagan presidential term, which, in its later applications, ultimately brought the Republican Party to control of Congress in 1994.

Before this position, Jack was twice elected Chairman of the College Republican National Committee beginning in 1981. He was oversaw the largest and most effective College Republican National Committee ever, with over 1100 chapters nationwide. He also changed the direction of the committee and made it more activist and conservative than ever before. Jack ran our most successful field programs until that time with very little funding by sending the field representatives out in vans to recruit for months at a time, making the committee more successful than ever before. Jack brought two famous future activists into his administration, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, as his Executive Directors. Before this time Jack ran the youth effort for Reagan in Massachusetts which produced 10,000 absentee ballot votes in Reagan’s 3000 vote margin of victory. Jack designed and ran the anti nuclear freeze campaign He is a regular lecturer at Georgetown Law Center on entertainment law topics. Jack has hands-on experience in the entertainment industry, he spent ten years as the producer of a number of feature motion pictures including Red Scorpion, an anti communist film made just after Jack’s term as national chairman of the College Republicans.

 

Jim Gilmore

Virginia Governor, Elected 1997

CR Virginia State Chairman, 1971

Jim Gilmore was elected Virginia's 68th Governor in November 1997 on a philosophy of cutting taxes and providing all children in Virginia with quality education. Since taking office, Governor Gilmore has provided steady, conservative leadership that has resulted in the largest tax cut in Virginia history, implementation of Virginia's nationally acclaimed Standards of Learning, and a safer, more prosperous Commonwealth, leading to the creation of 175,000 new jobs.

A native Virginian, Jim Gilmore was born in Richmond on October 6, 1949. The son of working class parents, he grew up in Richmond's historic Fan District. He attended J.R. Tucker High School in Henrico County and worked as a grocery store cashier to help pay for his college education at the University of Virginia.

Governor Gilmore graduated from the University of Virginia in 1971 with a degree in Foreign Policy. During his time at the university Gilmore served as the state chairman of the College Republicans in Virginia. Following his time at the University of Virginia, he volunteered for the U.S. Army. Upon graduating with honors from the Army Intelligence School and completing the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA, where he learned to speak fluent German, he joined the 650th Military Intelligence Group. Stationed in Mannheim, West Germany, Governor Gilmore served his country in counterintelligence and was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for service to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. After his Army tour was completed, Gilmore returned to Virginia and entered the University of Virginia Law School. He graduated from UVA Law School in 1977. After a decade of civic and community involvement as an attorney and small businessman, Jim Gilmore was elected in 1987 as Commonwealth's Attorney for Henrico County. He was overwhelmingly reelected in 1991.

After earning a solid reputation for fighting crime, he was elected Virginia's Attorney General in 1993, receiving 56 percent of the vote in what was supposed to be a close election. He served Virginians well as Attorney General and achieved real accomplishments in the areas of education, consumer protection, public safety, and the environment. As Attorney General, he led a nationwide effort to stop arson against African-American churches. Governor Gilmore is married to Roxane Gatling Gilmore of Suffolk. Roxane is a teacher who has taught in public schools and currently teaches at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. The Gilmore's are the parents of two boys, 13-year-old Ashton, and Jay, who is 17. They are members of River Road Methodist Church, located in Richmond.

 

Grover Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform

CRNC Executive Director, 1981-83

Mr. Norquist, a native of Massachusetts, has been one of Washington’s most effective issues management strategists for over a decade. Mr. Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes at both the federal, state and local levels. ATR organizes the TAXPAYER PROTECTION PLEDGE, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to oppose all tax increases. To date, President George W. Bush, 210 House members, and 37 Senators have taken the pledge. On the state level, 9 governors and 1123 state legislators have taken the pledge.

As Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee in the 1980’s, he oversaw the transformation of the committee into a conservative grassroots powerhouse for the Reagan adiministration. Mr. Norquist, Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed added streamlined the College Republican national structure turned away from the establishment and toward conservatism.

During his tenure, the College Republicans gained a reputation for hard hitting activism. They built and destroyed a pseudo Berlin Wall for the press and printed thousands of posters depicting marching Russian troops with the caption, “The Soviet Union Needs You….Support a Nuclear Freeze.”

 

Ralph E. Reed Jr.

President, Century Strategies

CRNC Executive Director, 1983-1985

Ralph’s national reputation for strategic insights and grassroots organizational skills provides Century Strategies’ political and corporate clients with added assurance that their public policy goals will be achieved.

He has been involved in dozens of campaigns throughout the nation, including six presidential campaigns. He has served as an adviser and consultant to members of Congress, the U.S. Senate, members of the Republican leadership in Congress and Governor [President] George W. Bush.

As Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee in from 1983-1985, Ralph assisted in managing one of the largest grassroots efforts in the history of the committee. Ronald Reagan’s reelection effort in 1984 saw more college students voting and working for a Republican in modern memory. Ralph founded Students for America after leaving the College Republican National Committee and immediately found success. The organization grew to one of the largest grassroots groups in the nation seemingly overnight.

As Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, he built one of the most effective grassroots organizations in modern American politics. During his tenure, the organization’s budget grew from $200,000 in 1989 to $27 million in 1996. Its support base grew from two thousand members to two million members and supporters.

Acknowledged as one of the leading political strategists in the nation, Reed has been named one of the top new political newsmakers in America by Newsweek and one of the fifty future leaders in the country by Time. He received his B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in history from Emory University. He is the best-selling author and editor of three books, a sought-after speaker, and his columns have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and National Review. A frequent television commentator, he has appeared on Meet the Press, Nightline, This Week, Hardball and Larry King Live.

 

Karl Rove

Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush

CRNC National Chairman 1973-1974

CRNC Executive Director 1970-1972

In the years of the Watergage scandal, Rove's career as a big-time political handler began with a motley crew of friends and associates. He was chairman of the College Republican National Committee when George Herbert Walker Bush was Republican National Committee in 1973. He won the Chairmanship of the College Republicans in heated a race against Terry Dolan and Bob Edgeworth. The late Lee Atwater, who later became famous as the political attack dog for the Reagan-Bush team, managed Rove's campaign. Dolan went on to become a Soft Money pioneer by helping form the National Conservative Political Action Committee, then died of AIDS in 1986 at age 36. Dolan's advisers in his loss to Rove were Charlie Black, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Those three were later instrumental in the success of Ronald Reagan's 1984 campaign. Atwater joined the consulting firm of Black, Manafort and Stone after the '84 election. The firm later worked for the 1988 Bush-Quayle campaign. Two of Nixon's dirty tricksters also worked for Bush-Quayle: Frederick Malek, Bush's Republican National Committee rep, who had compiled lists of Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of Nixon's investigation of a "Jewish Cabal;" and Dwight Chapin, who was jailed for lying to a grand jury about hiring Donald Sigretti to disrupt the 1972 Democratic primary campaign of Senator Edward Muskie. Chapin worked under Manafort in 1988. The firm's other clients included drug-connected Bahamian Prime Minister Oscar Pindling, Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and UNITA, the South African-supported Angolan rebel group led by CIA asset Jonas Savimbi. Lee Atwater lobbied for UNITA. All of which began when Atwater was introduced to George Bush in 1973, by his good friend Karl Rove. In 1980, Bush hired Rove to help him run for president. He was the first person Bush hired for the campaign. Atwater became chairman of the Republican National Committee and one of Bush's closest political advisors. In 1981, when Bush became Reagan's vice president, Rove started his consulting business, Karl Rove & Co. His first direct mail client was Bill Clements, the first Republican in a century to become Texas governor.

Rove began working for Bill Clements in 1978. Four years later, he was working for Phil Gramm, who was in the U.S. House of Representatives as an old-style conservative Texas Democrat. In 1984, Rove helped Gramm, now a Republican, defeat Democrat Lloyd Doggett in the race for U.S. Senate. It was that same year, 1984, that Rove handled direct-mail for the Reagan-Bush campaign. In 1986, he helped Clements become governor a second time. In 1988, Rove helped Tom Phillips to victory, the first Republican elected to the Texas Supreme Court. Ten years later Republicans held all nine seats. Mark McKinnon, a former Democratic consultant who defected to the Bush campaign, called Rove the "Bobby Fischer of politics. He not only sees the board, he sees about 20 moves ahead." For 20 years, Rove has been at the center of a political realignment that has transformed the Lone Star State from one-party Democratic dominance to an era of Republican ascendance. He is smart, aggressive, shrewd and funny, and the rollout of the Bush campaign bears his imprint. His admirers speak of him as the Bush strategist most likely to emerge as a national player from this campaign. "The rest of us are reasonably competent," a Bush supporter says, "but Karl's the real genius of the operation." Rove has been closely advising George W. Bush since he announced he was a candidate for Governor in November 1993. In a state long dominated by Democrats, albeit right-wing ones, every statewide elected office was, by 1999, held by a Republican. Many of those politicians succeeded with the help of Rove. During the November election, the half-dozen candidates he advised were all winners.

Bush has called Rove a close friend and confidant, and a man with good judgment. Rove soon sold his consulting firm to devote himself to the Bush campaign and now serves as Senior Advisor to the President. Sources: Robert Bryce, "The Man Behind the Candidate," The Austin Chronicle, March 18, 1994, pp. 23, 28-30, 32-33; Robert Bryce, "The fab four:Meet the people maneuvering behind the scenes to put George W. Bush in the White House," Salon magazine, June 16, 1999, (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/06/16/advisors/index1.html); Paul Brancato, “Bush League” illustrated cards (Forestville, California: Eclipse Enterprises, 1989), pp. 5, 13, 18.

Karl Rove The Strategist

Before there was Lee Atwater, there was Karl Rove. Back in 1972, the 22-year-old Rove was a candidate for chairman of the College Republicans. The rambunctious Atwater was his Southern regional coordinator. For a week, they drove the blue highways of the South in a mustard-brown Ford Pinto, scouring the region for support, running out of gas and courting coeds. "Somewhere between Tallahassee and some university in Alabama, we stopped for breakfast at 6 o'clock in the morning," Rove says as if it were just last month. "Atwater orders cornflakes and pours Tabasco sauce on them because he's lost his taste buds." In a bitterly contested election, Rove defeated John T. "Terry" Dolan, who later headed the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), the organization that helped define the scorched-earth politics of the late 1970s. Atwater rose to national prominence ahead of Rove, serving as presidential campaign manager for Gov. Bush's father in 1988 and later as chairman of the Republican National Committee until he died of a brain tumor. "We both cut our teeth at the same time," Rove says. "He rose much faster, much farther than I did." Now it is Rove's turn. As Republican strategist Don Sipple sees it, "He's been working his entire career for this time, and so far he's been doing very well at it." Rove is Bush's whirling dervish, a man in perpetual motion. No part of the campaign escapes his eye – strategy, organization, message, polling, media, issues or money. "He dominates a campaign," says friend and fellow Republican strategist David Weeks. "Nothing ever happens that he's not aware of." But as a practitioner of the take-no-prisoners politics common to Republican operatives of his generation, Rove also has detractors. They say he is ruthless and power-hungry, that he will do whatever it takes to win. One of the few critics willing to speak for the record was conservative Tom Pauken, who regularly fought with Rove – and Bush – when he was Texas Republican Party chairman during Bush's first term as governor. "Karl's very capable and wants to be the next Lee Atwater," Pauken says. "He's very much what I would call a control freak." Rove pleads guilty to being an intense competitor, and his game plan has helped Bush dominate his GOP rivals in the early stages of the 2000 campaign. "I get revved," he says. "I'm a competitive guy. I like to win." But he challenges those who claim he has a win-at-any-cost approach or that his competitiveness turns personal. "Life's too short to stay focused on settling scores," he says. "I'd like to think that I have been associated with people who have run campaigns that, while they've been strong, they've been fair." Some Democrats agree. "I think he fights fair," says Kirk Adams, who battled Rove on behalf of former Democratic governor Ann Richards in the 1994 campaign. Bush has pledged to run a positive campaign, and so it is perhaps no coincidence that Rove says the era of attack politics has run its course. "I think we've gone through a period in American politics from the '70s and '80s where the negative campaign worked to where it doesn't," he says. "I think what does work in politics is the counterpunch rather than the punch." Rove, 48, was born in Colorado, grew up in an apolitical household and caught the political bug after the family moved to Utah. In 1971 he quit the University of Utah and moved to Washington to become executive director of the College Republicans. In 1973, he and the College Republicans were accused of encouraging dirty tricks during the Watergate campaign year of 1972. The Republican National Committee, which was then chaired by Bush's father, investigated and eventually exonerated Rove, who blames political opponents from his chairmanship race for spreading false allegations. But Rove acknowledges that, in 1970, he used a false identity to gain entry to the campaign offices of Illinois Democrat Alan Dixon, who was running for state treasurer. Once inside, Rove swiped some letterhead stationery and sent out 1,000 bogus invitations to the opening of the candidate's headquarters promising "free beer, free food, girls and a good time for nothing." "It was a youthful prank at the age of 19 and I regret it," Rove says. He has had a Bush connection for 25 years, having first met George W. Bush while working as an assistant to Bush's father at the RNC in 1973-74. In 1977, he moved to Texas to work for the elder Bush's political action committee, and in 1978 helped George W. Bush in his unsuccessful race for Congress. Rove left the elder Bush's presidential campaign and moved to Austin in early 1979, in part to try to save a failing marriage. There he went to work for Bill Clements, the first Republican governor of Texas elected in this century. The marriage eventually dissolved, but the move to Austin launched Rove on a 20-year crusade to remake the political face of the state. Despite knowing each other for two decades, Rove still calls the governor "sir" when they talk on the phone. And Bush seems to enjoy tormenting his chief strategist, keeping Rove's hyperkinetic energy in check and occasionally rebuking his top strategist for speaking too freely to the press. And earlier this year, Bush required Rove to sell his consulting firm and direct-mail company to concentrate full time on the presidential campaign. But Bush is as loyal to Rove as Rove is to his candidate. "He's a friend," Bush said. "He is a very unique and very smart and very capable person. He is – he's just Karl, and when everybody understands what 'just Karl' means, we all get along." Rove remarried in 1986. He and his wife, Darby, a graphic artist, have a 10-year-old son and live in a house in the hills overlooking Austin. They are also renovating an old lodge on the Guadalupe River in the Hill Country southwest of Austin. He is an avid quail hunter. "That's Q-U-A-I-L," he says. A student of political history who teaches part time at the University of Texas, Rove has been provisionally accepted into the university's doctoral program in government. Not bad for someone who hasn't finished college. "I lack at this point one math class, which I can take by exam, and my foreign language requirement," he said. His recent undergraduate course work prompted him to delve into William McKinley's presidential campaign in 1896, and he sees parallels between that election and the campaign of 2000. McKinley, says Rove, correctly analyzed the political significance of the new, industrial-based economy and understood that the wave of immigration at the turn of the century was creating a diverse population that would require a new kind of politics. He says McKinley also sensed that the campaign of 1896 represented the passing of an older generation from political power. "He saw that the issues that had dominated American politics since the 1860s had sort of worn themselves out," Rove says. "Neither party could successfully appeal upon the basis of their Civil War allegiances. All those issues had either become resolved or irrelevant." Rove says there are clear differences between then and now, but his description of McKinley's campaign almost writes the script for Bush's campaign of "compassionate conservatism." "A successful party," Rove says of the GOP under McKinley, "had to take its fundamental principles and style them in such a way that they seemed to have relevance to the new economy, the new nature of the country and the new electorate."

– By Dan Balz, Washington Post Staff Writer