A Mini-Interview With RNC eCampaign Director Patrick Ruffini

Yesterday afternoon, I did an exclusive mini-interview with RNC eCampaign Director Patrick Ruffini. What you’ll see below is an edited, partial transcript of our conversation. Enjoy!

John Hawkins: Does the RNC have any sort of organized method for checking out what the blogosphere is doing on a daily basis?

Patrick Ruffini: Sure! Each morning we start off with a blog report that gets sent out in the morning and afternoon…that tells the entire building what bloggers are talking about that day.

John Hawkins: That goes out to everybody at the RNC?

Patrick Ruffini: Yep. It’s what people are saying out there. It’s what the conversation is like. I like to read my list of blogs. People here like to read their list of blogs. But, beyond reading the lists of blogs, we go out and use tools like Technorati. (We) use tools like Memeorandum. (We) use…all the various blog search tools out there.

John Hawkins: What’s your analysis of the left side of the blogosphere’s impact on the Democratic Party? Do you feel it’s out of proportion with their size and do you believe it’s positive or negative?

Patrick Ruffini: The question overall is when are they going to be able to start winning elections? We read about the perfect Kos 0-19 record. It’s not important how big you are, it’s how effective you are, frankly, at winning elections and in all aspects of the campaign, be it money, be it volunteers, be it media buzz.

I think you could point to any number of battles, whether (you) agree with us or disagree with us, and I think the conservative blogosphere has been very effective at creating change within the media, in the government, and in elections.

John Hawkins: Related question: the right side of the blogosphere has been very critical of a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill of late. So, do you think they’re more of an asset or a hindrance to the party right now?

Patrick Ruffini: I think you could point to similar things in talk radio, but I don’t think any aspect of this is necessarily hurtful to the Party. I think there are certainly going to be times where you agree and times where you disagree, and it comes and it goes. I don’t necessarily view that as, “We have this huge problem on our hands.” Being realistic, the political environment is tough right now, but we have to keep going and have to work to earn that support every day.

John Hawkins: Are there any issues or ways things were handled internally at the RNC over the last couple of years where you think the blogosphere may have had a particular impact?

Patrick Ruffini: I could probably spew off a few examples…

John Hawkins: Sure! Go ahead.

Patrick Ruffini: …But, I think it would probably be in the realm of the “inside the playbook” kind of stuff which we generally don’t talk about. …One of the very helpful aspects of the conservative blogosphere is that I think you cover…a wider variety of issues perhaps than your counterparts on the left. The blogs are talking about one thing and the RNC might be talking about something else that day. I don’t see that as a weakness, per se.

Politics increasingly isn’t command and control anymore, but it is network warfare. So, it’s not hurtful to us if you’re focusing on topics that aren’t necessarily at the top of the mind in the Beltway, because I think if it’s important, it will rise to the top of the mind in the Beltway. …The ability of bloggers to impact the mainstream media stories is increasing, by the day almost.

John Hawkins: Oh, let me just throw this in. Why do you think the left side of the blogosphere has been so much more successful than the right at fund raising (for candidates)?

Patrick Ruffini: To the extent that’s true, it’s a matter of asking. You can’t receive if you don’t ask. One of the things the left has been good at has just been asking. When Redstate did something for Van Taylor in Texas, they were very successful.

John Hawkins: I saw that. They raised $10,000 in a very short period of time.

Patrick Ruffini: Now, when you see these candidates on the left (that raise a lot of money), the Francine Busby’s of the world, it’s because they keep pounding and pounding and pounding away.

Maybe you don’t see as much of that on the right, but it’s a trade-off. But, if I had to choose between an extra $100,000 on the one hand and a candidate who doesn’t have a clear message, goes into places and encourages illegal immigrants to vote, I would take having a good candidate with a solid message, with a solid organization, any day of the week. (That’s) as opposed to the ability of perhaps a more extreme candidate, to wrack up some of the larger (fund raising) numbers.

John Hawkins: Thank you! I appreciate your taking the time to do the interview.

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