Page 2 of 2   <      

Aspiring RNC Chairmen Wonder: What Would Reagan Do?

Saul Anuzis
Saul Anuzis (Adam Bird - AP)
  Enlarge Photo    

"We have to do it in the Facebook, with the Twittering, the different technology that young people are using today," Duncan ventured.

"Let me just say that I have 4,000 friends on Facebook," contributed Blackwell, putting his hand on Dawson's and Anuzis's knees. "That's probably more than these two guys put together, but who's counting, you know?" Acknowledged Saltsman: "I'm not sure all of us combined Twitter as much as Saul."

Anuzis claimed he had "somewhere between 2- and 3,000" Facebook friends, which prompted Blackwell to remind the audience that he has 4,000 friends on the social networking site by waving four fingers behind Anuzis's head.

The candidates were significantly more comfortable when asked how many guns they own. Duncan claimed four handguns and two rifles, Anuzis boasted of two, and Blackwell replied: "Seven -- and I'm good."

"In my closet at home," replied Saltsman, "I've got two 12-gauges, a 20-gauge, three handguns and a .30-06. And I'll take you on anytime, Ken."

Even talk of their prized firearms, however, did not engage the candidates as much as their criticism of President Bush and the party they would lead.

"It's not the easiest thing in the world right now to be a Republican," Steele began, setting off 90 minutes of self-flagellation: "We are looked at being to some degree a party that is not friendly to minorities. . . . We lost our way. . . . Republicans should've had a little bit more you-know-what. . . . Obama caught us with our pants down. . . . They've bested us. . . . We can no longer afford to talk one way and behave in another." Norquist invited the candidates to name the biggest mistake of the Bush administration, and the answers tumbled out: The economic bailout. Greater deficits. Mishandling the Iraq war. Hurricane Katrina. Social Security. Immigration.

At one point, Anuzis had trouble even calling himself a Republican. "I have not been a lifelong Democrat," he said. "Republican," he corrected. "I actually became a Democrat," he went on. "Republican," he corrected again, "during my high school years."

Norquist invited the candidates to name their "least favorite Republican president," coaching them that "it's safe to go with the dead ones."

Replied Dawson: "We've got a few of those in the party right now."

<       2

© 2009 The Washington Post Company