Dole Campaign Press Release - Transcript of Press Conference by Paul Manafort, Dole Convention Manger
JOHNSON: Good morning. My name is Mark Johnson. I am a member of the Speakers Committee here at the Press Club. And welcome to one of our morning newsmaker programs.
Our guest this morning is the Dole campaign's manager and promoter for one of the biggest events of the year. But I think he probably would not want to be known this year as the Don King of American politics and become the manager of what could become one of the biggest brawls of this year.
He's going to spend a little time this morning telling us some of the themes and ideas of what's going to be going on at the convention. All we ask this morning is when you ask questions at the end, please identify yourself and your organization.
So, at this point I'd like to introduce Paul Manafort, who is the manager for the Republican National Convention for the Dole for President Campaign.
MANAFORT: Thank you.
As Mark said, I'd like to talk this morning a bit about the Dole campaign and the convention planning process and what we hope to accomplish over the course of the next couple of weeks. I'll talk a little about our goals and our themes and then open it up for questions that you might have.
We've been involved over the course of the last four months working very closely with the RNC in developing a program which we think will be very different from previous conventions.
As we began to prepare our strategy for this convention, we looked at past conventions, and the analysis showed us that in many respects the way in which a convention is presented hasn't changed in the last hundred years. Notwithstanding the development of communications and media, the conventions in 1900 and 1904 were not very different from the conventions of 1992.
Yet, at the same time, people get their news differently. People are not looking at conventions to see long speeches. They want to find out something about the candidates, they want to understand positions on the issues, but they want it presented in the manner which they've become comfortable with watching television. So, shorter speeches, speeches that are less focused on rambling discourses and more focused on specifics.
So, we looked at that and we said OK fine. The audience is different. The purpose of a convention is to nominate, but in many respects the nomination battle is over. Senator Dole has more than enough delegates to be very comfortably nominated. The rest of the party has coalesced for the most part behind his candidacy.
So, the convention hall, in many respects, becomes an audience. And the podium, in many respects, becomes the means by which the campaign can talk to America.
And so with that as a baseline, we said what are viewers -- how do the viewers get their news of conventions? What we found was a bit surprising. And notwithstanding some of the information you've heard that viewership for conventions has gone down in recent years, we discovered that really convention leadership has stayed about the same but it's fragmented. The networks are losing some market share, other means of broadcast are picking up market share.
But most importantly, we discovered that over 60 percent of the American people don't watch conventions at all. They get their news of the convention and their impressions from watching their local news or from reading the newspapers.
So, in many respects, their interpretation of our convention is filtered at least once, if not twice.
MANAFORT: That also became an important factor to us as we began to plan our approach to the convention.
We said, all right, recognizing this, we want to do two things. We want to put together a program that will be very attractive and will fit within modern viewership expectations as far as the convention proper is concerned.
But we also want to take care of this other 60 percent or so who aren't going to watch our convention. We want to try to get them to watch our convention, and if we don't, we want them to at least get the message directly from us.
What Haley Barbour and the RNC have done over the course of the last year in creating the GOP-TV network certainly gave the program an opportunity to get a Republican presentation of our convention. And Haley, I think, in his press conference earlier this week spoke about what they were doing and how they would be able get that message out in an unfiltered way.
But there was also a by-product benefit for the campaign and for the Republican Party in that what was needed to communicate the GOP-TV network broadcast was three satellites, and those satellites, basically during the daytime when the convention isn't in session, became opportunities because they weren't being used.
So in many respects, what we're going to be doing in trying to reach the 65 percent is extending our convention, if you will, from prior to its even beginning. Through this use of the satellites, speakers who will be making presentations during the day will be able to -- will be doing interviews across the country with a number of television stations, for example, who won't be in San Diego.
And so I would not be surprised to see Susan Molinari, for example, who's been announced as the keynote speaker on Tuesday evening, do a number of interviews on her speech that night but prior to even giving the speech, so that people in targeted states of the campaign, who may not be watching the convention that night will still get Susan Molinari's message.
And maybe even, after seeing it on their 5:00 and 6:00 news, they'll want to watch the full speech that night.
It's an aggressive program. We've additionally expanded beyond that to something that didn't even exist in 1992, and that's what we call "talk radio." Talk radio has got over 50 credentialed programs going on from our convention site, and in fact we've created what we call "talk radio row," where they're all lined up.
And Susan Molinari on Tuesday will be able to, during the day before she gives her speech, walk right down that row, and no one will even know -- the audiences that are attracted by the host and hostesses -- so that Susan can deal with the right audiences to get our messages out so that we're communicating directly to our targeted groups.
Additionally, we're going to have a very active program with the Internet. The RNC has a home page. We have a home page. And we've been coordinating with a number of coalition groups that are sympathetic to Republican causes on a variety of issues that are going to be the issues of this campaign, and in the course of doing that, we're going to be able to access their home pages with our messages so that Susan Molinari, again keeping the example going, can spend a couple of hours in chat rooms speaking to groups that might not -- and to individuals -- who might not intend on watching a program that day, but as a result will get her message and again maybe want to turn on the television that night as a result.
So we're going to use modern communications during the daytime to hype our program. And if we don't increase the viewership, we're still going to expand our direct unfiltered reach to that 60 to 65 percent who don't normally watch a convention while it's going -- being broadcast live.
Beyond that approach, as I said, in looking at how people watch TV and what they expect, in coordinating with the RNC, the approach this year will be very different. And Haley dealt with this somewhat in his press conference, I know, so I won't spend a whole lot of time on it.
But the convention this time, instead of being a lot of long speeches, is going to really be what I call political programming. In other words, we're going to be -- you know, the speeches and the format will be conducive to an audience getting our message.
MANAFORT: Instead of long speeches, they're going to be short- issue segments. And the short-issue segments are going to have a variety of means of presentation, not just using the podium for the speeches but loud remotes from around the country where ordinary Americans will be talking about the effects of Republican policies on their lives.
And the example I use as I talk to people is just imagine Tommy Thompson opening up a segment on welfare reform where he can frame the issue and then we can go live to some place in Wisconsin and talk to somebody who was on welfare and has moved on into the workforce as a result of the program.
And we can come back into San Diego from that live remote and we can talk about the Dole agenda and what the Republican Party and Republican Congress want to do to bring the welfare reform package to a completion.
I give you that example. I mean, we will be doing that with a number of the targeted issues that we'll be presenting at the convention. But the goal here is to make it interesting for the viewer, to make the speeches more attractive to getting the message, and in many respects making it more into a programming format than just a lot of speeches.
Who are our targets for this convention? Well, there are several. Obviously, we would want to speak to all of America, but certainly the first target is to deal with Republicans. You look at the polls today and you see that, you know, with President Clinton having moved to the right and trying take Republican rhetoric, he -- and adopts it -- are trying to steal some of our issues. He's made an impressive intrusion into Republican forces.
We're not worried about that, because we know for a fact that these Republicans that are supporting the President right now, are doing so for one of a couple of reasons. Number one, Clinton is using our rhetoric.
Number two, the Dole campaign really ran out of money at the time when the Clinton campaign started to spend millions of dollars to try and define Senator Dole.
And number three, we know for a fact that people don't know who Bob Dole is yet. Very similar to 1988, when you've got Vice President Bush, at this exact stage of the process getting ready to go to New Orleans. He was trailing Governor Dukakis by anywhere from 10 to 15 points depending on what pull you had.
And one of the reasons he was trailing, we found, was that fact that people didn't know who he was. He had may have been Vice President, but beyond being Vice President, beyond the fact that he had been on the public scene for a long time, people didn't know what he stood for.
Very similar to Senator Dole today. People know who the Senator is, but they really don't know what he stands for. They really don't know what his agenda for America is. And the Convention will allow us to get that message across for the first time, really, since he secured the nomination.
If you go back and look at the polls of late December, you had Senator Dole even or ahead of President Clinton. He then went into a four-month primary battle. It was very difficult. A lot of money was spent against him that raised his negatives.
MANAFORT: And at the point in time when he won the nomination he ran out of money. That in our judgment is one of the reasons why the Senator's message hasn't gotten across completely yet.
We're comfortable that over the course of the last couple of weeks, with some of the speeches that he has given and some of the responses that we've gotten on the campaign trail, that the campaign is coming together.
And we see the convention as the first major opportunity to galvanize the Republican base with a massive amount of television coverage and media coverage, and with the opportunity for Senator Dole to speak directly to the American people when they'll really be paying attention. So, Republicans are our first target audience for the convention. And we're comfortable that it will reach our objective in communicating with them.
The second really, are the 20 percent of the American electorate that decided elections -- the swing voter, as we call it. When we look at this voter today what we find is that they're supporting President Clinton, but they're supporting President Clinton even though the fact that we're finding on a majority of them they don't like the president for whatever the reasons are. Or, they're supporting him notwithstanding the fact that they disagree with certain positions he's taken as president. Or, we find that they're supporting him because they think he's something that he's not.
What they clearly don't know though -- especially in this group of voters is -- the record of the first three years of his administration. The president has been successful in blurring that and in getting people to focus on his rhetoric over the course of the last nine months.
So, the purpose of the convention with this group is to get their attention again. Is to remind them of what the record was for the first three years. It's to remind them why for three years, they were -- the net job approval for the president was negative. And to remind them of why they elected a Republican Congress in 1994, which of course means the issue agenda will be very important.
The good news from our perspective when we deal with these voters and our goals in this convention, is that the issue agenda that we need to get their attention has been an historical Republican issue agenda. It's economics, it's taxes, it's welfare reform, it's crime and drugs.
These are issues that have been Republican issues that Clinton has tried to move to the middle on, blur his record from his rhetoric. And our job now is to sort of clarify that again and to remind the American people of what the record is. And to remind the American people of what Republicans have not only done in the Congress over the course of the last couple of years in these issue areas, but what hasn't been done and what we as Republicans would do with a Republican president and a Republican Congress.
And the beauty of it all is with the Republican governors that we have -- and we're going to use a lot of them in the course of our convention -- we can show that what we're talking about isn't theoretical. We can show, using the successes that our Republican governors have had in some of the major states in the country, that we're talking about real programs that have worked and can work even better if Washington is cooperating with the states.
So, that's the second target group. We feel that if we can get our message across to our Republicans, and if we can get the attention of these swing voters, then we'll be a long way towards regaining the White House in November.
MANAFORT: As far as the goals are concerned for the convention -- I've sort of alluded to them in the course of identifying our targets -- the first is to define Senator Dole. We recognize that most people, as I said earlier, don't really know who the Senator is. I mean, they know very basic things about his background, but that's it.
So, we want them to leave San Diego with an understanding of the depth of the man, from his mainstream roots in Russell, Kansas, to the successful war record, to his heroism, to his leadership for the disadvantaged and the disabled, to the leadership that he's provided in Washington.
And, in the course of defining Bob Dole, the man, we also have as our second goal to define -- bring the Dole agenda within the targeted issue mix to the floor in the convention, so that we'll be talking about specific things that Senator Dole wants to do, both from a moral standpoint, as well as from an economic and programmatic standpoint.
The third goal, it's obvious, is to get the Clinton record back into the public consciousness and to clear the rhetoric away. In many respects, we'll do a lot of this in our platform deliberations next week. For the first time, really, since 1980, our platform deliberations will focus not on defending an administration, but talking about what's working and what's not working in America.
It becomes an opportunity for us to put our philosophical positions in the document. But, also, we'll take a look at why things are not connecting the way they should be in America and look at what the administration is doing and why we view the administration to be the root cause of some of the failures or inability to reach the objectives of the American people. So, the platform document, in many respects, will set up the differentiation of the rhetoric from the Clinton record.
We won't spend a whole lot of time in San Diego on this third point. There'll be some of it in the platform, obviously. There'll be a little bit of it in the convention programming.
But the goal, really, in defining Dole and in defining the Dole agenda and just clarifying the rhetoric from the record, we then set up the general election. And, then, in the general election, comparing Senator Dole's agenda with the Clinton record will be where the campaign would go.
The fourth and last objective is to make our convention look as if we understand what's going on in the country. And, by that, what I mean is, in many respects the election of 1992 and, really, the election of 1994, the American people were saying, we don't think Washington is the solution. We think that Washington is part of the problem. While there is a role for government, we want the power to be distributed back to the state and local communities where it's closest to the people and where the impact can have its greatest absorption from the standpoint of what the American people want.
So, connectivity is very important. Our program format, as we've talked about, where we're bringing real Americans, as opposed to just elected officials into the program itself, where we're using them to symbolize what we're trying to communicate, in many respects, as I tell people, is what President Reagan used to do when he was giving a State of the Union Address.
MANAFORT: He'd point to the gallery and somebody who was a guest of his sitting in the gallery would be the symbol of what he was trying to communicate in his speech.
We're bringing that gallery into our podium, putting that gallery on our podium as part of our message delivery system so that at the end of the day people who are watching the convention will learn a lot about people who are not elected officials saying Republican policies work, we have experienced them. Or they'll be saying that the policies of Washington today are not working and the overregulation and the middle class income tax hike that President Clinton passed are causing me pain.
I mean we'll use them to express our concerns and our hopes for the future, which is what led us to the theme of the convention, which is "Restoring the American Dream."
As we were analyzing our program for the convention, we said to ourselves, what is the essence of America? And it's the sense of hope and optimism that has always been part of the American spirit. It's the belief that if you work hard, the hard work will pay off, and the hard work will pay off not just economically, but in a sense that your children will have a better life than you've had.
Well, we discovered as we were putting our convention together that that American dream, which is really what it's all about, was fading, if not had actually faded. It was especially true among this 20 percent of the swing voters that we're talking about.
And yet at the same time, even though they believe that life no longer will be better for their children and that maybe this is as good as it gets, even though they're very unhappy with their safety in their neighborhoods and the quality of education that their children are getting, they still wished that life would be better. So there was still that spark of optimism, or hope rather, even though the feeling was the dream was quickly fading.
We said that's what this convention should be all about. That's what Senator Dole has been talking about and will be talking about in the campaign. He wants to bring back that spirit, he wants to, you know, give that confidence back to America.
And so the concept of restoring the American dream we felt looked to the future. It was positive, it played to Senator Dole's whole life, his whole life story.
And at the same time, just by definition of restoring, it indicated very clearly that things, we recognized that things weren't working and that we were not going to be Pollyannish in our approach to things, and if they weren't working we also recognized why they weren't working. And in many respects, you know, that's where the Clinton record of the first three years certainly would be pointed.
So in the course of saying, all right, if restoring the American dream is our theme, how do we communicate it? And what we did is we decided we'd break that down into three areas so that, again, through our new programming format at the convention it would be more understandable.
Those three themes are better opportunities, smaller government, and stronger and safer communities.
MANAFORT: And even though the issue cuts across all three of those themes, it allows us to break up our message delivery into segments that are very understandable, with economics and jobs and to smaller government, to power being sent back to the state and local communities, and then using the governors to show what happens when that kind of experience can be had; to crime and drugs and talking about the problems in our communities in America and the increase in drug use among children in high schools and things of that nature.
So our convention then said this will be the theme, these will be the sub-themes in it. And over the course of the four nights our goal is not to do something each night on one of those themes, but to do all of these things each night. So by the end of the four-day process we'll have told our story, told the Dole story, talked about the Dole agenda on every one of the nights through a variety of different means.
That's the planning approach we went through. That's the themes and messages. Those are the audiences. And I think I'll use that as a stopping point and open it up for questions.
QUESTION: If I understood you, you're focused on the 20 percent of the electorate or the swing vote. If I understood, your focus on theme is to show them what's wrong with Clinton -- to define Clinton in your terms, rather than to define Dole. Is that...
MANAFORT: No. The defining of Bob Dole is important across the board. In other words, it's not that swing voters understand Bob Dole better than Republican voters, it's an additional requirement with the swing voters is all I'm saying.
QUESTION: You don't need to meet that requirement with the Republican voters?
MANAFORT: We found with Republican voters, once they know who Bob Dole is and they know what the Dole agenda is, they come home.
I mean the problem with Republicans right now is they don't really know who their nominee is. I mean they know basic things about him, but that's it. They're learning more every day as the campaign is going on, but the convention is a massive opportunity for us to communicate at one time. And just like in 1988, if we're able to successfully communicate the essence of Bob Dole and his life as well as his goals, then we feel that will bring the Republican base home.
QUESTION: Could you tell us a little bit, please, about how you tested out these various formats, what techniques you used, whether polling, focus groups, to hone some of the ideas that you've just presented to us?
MANAFORT: Well, we've used a variety of means, you know, traditional research sources, but also just talking to people around the country.
QUESTION: Could you tell us a little bit about the research sources that you did use, besides talking to people? Could you address yourself to that, please?
MANAFORT: I really don't want to get into all of that background, suffice it to say...
QUESTION: No. But that is my question. Could you...
MANAFORT: Well, I understand that. But suffice it to say that we've gone through what I call the traditional resources of survey research and focus group research to...
QUESTION: Where did you do your focus groups and testing some of these convention ideas out?
MANAFORT: We're not going to get into that today.
QUESTION: So you don't want to talk about (OFF-MIKE)?
MANAFORT: No. Because it's not relevant to what we're talking about today. But thank you.
QUESTION: How do you plan to keep the convention from being divisive on issues like abortion and trade and the things we know where Republicans disagree, both in the platform part and during the session?
MANAFORT: Well, Republicans disagree on a lot of issues, but they're united on one thing -- regaining the White House, and having a Republican White House and a Republican Congress.
The differences on some of the issues have been blown out of perspective. The reality is that, as Senator Dole has said, the party will tolerate opposing views on a variety of issues.
We don't think that platform week is going to be "abortion week." We think platform week will deal with a number of issues. There'll be some real debate on issues as relating to trade, as relates to taxes, relating to a number of issues.
At the end of the day, we'll adopt a platform that will reflect the Republican convention and we think the broad mainstream of Republicans. But, at the end of the day, we still will recognize in that platform that it's not a unanimous agreement; it's not a unanimous document.
We think platform week, however, will be more an opportunity for us to talk about some of the bigger issues. And those bigger issues include the problem with crimes and the problem with drug increases in the schools and the problem of over-taxation and over-regulation. And we're going to use platform week to talk about those issues as opposed to focus on simply one or two of the things.
QUESTION: Can you about the schedule and the process for platform week and going into -- talk about the whole convention. What's going to happen when one of the...
MANAFORT: I think Congressman Hyde will be doing that later today or tomorrow, I'm not certain. And he'll walk through the whole platform process. But it'll start on Monday and be done by the end of the week.
QUESTION: What did you learn from the 1992 convention of what not to do?
MANAFORT: Well, the problem in 1992 -- and, you know, everybody's got a different opinion on this -- but it wasn't necessarily one speech. I mean, I think the problem in 1992 had more to do with the strategic objectives of the convention were simply to keep things together and then to have President Bush's speech kick off the campaign.
President Bush gave a good speech. But we didn't put enough emphasis on the issue distinctions between the Republican administration and the Clinton White House -- or Clinton campaign. That's my personal opinion.
What we've tried to do in 1996, irrespective of 1992, is model a convention along the lines of what we did in 1988, where we had a successful convention and we had a -- we kept the White House.
QUESTION: Looking back at '88, part of the success, looking back at it, of the Bush campaign that year, was that it spent the months leading up to the convention defining Mike Dukakis as a liberal. And, then, once you've kind of had softened them up, George Bush stepped up to the plate and kind of took away, ran away with the campaign.
And it seems like the last few months has been -- the Dole campaign has wasted that opportunity to define Bill Clinton in that way and instead has kind of defined Bob Dole in ways that have not resonated with voters.
MANAFORT: The fact of the matter is we actually were doing our focus groups on what was, how to define Michael Dukakis in June. I mean, we really weren't softening him up at that point. We were still learning at that point in time.
What we did in July is we had Vice President Bush out there giving several speeches on important issues which were going to be picked up thematically at the convention and then carried through into the fall.
MANAFORT: In the last couple of weeks you've seen the same thing with Senator Dole. And so, if anything the model is very similar to 1988.
QUESTION: The ghost of this piece threatens to be Pat Buchanan. How do you specifically plan to deal with what could be a really divisive force here?
MANAFORT: Well, I don't know that it will be really divisive. I mean Senator Dole has invited Pat Buchanan to the unity luncheon that he choose not to attend. Haley Barbour invited Buchanan to be treated the same way the other candidates were treated, which he's chosen not to accept.
The reality is from the Dole campaign standpoint, we've got to plan a campaign based on, what we can affect, which is Senator Dole's campaign. You know, we would like Pat Buchanan to endorse us and to stop running against us and I suspect that will happen eventually. But we can't make decisions for the Buchanan campaign, and we're not trying to.
QUESTION: You talk about how you choose Susan Molinari and Colin Powell as featured speakers and which groups they're trying to appeal to and how you could -- is their any problem with Molinari, who was ostensibly chosen to appeal to married mothers and that kind of group.
Is there any problem with the drug allegations concerning that group?
MANAFORT: Certainly, General Powell is a leader in America, not just in the Republican Party. And his selection I think reflects the recognition by Senator Dole that General Powell is a leader that people will be attracted to. And so his selection there, I think demonstrates exactly that point.
Susan Molinari in many respects deals with -- represents a lot of the future from the standpoint of a working mother, and the pressures that a working mother has, to the standpoint of somebody that fits within, is looking to the future to deal with the problems that relate to families in the country.
So, she's certainly reflective of that. She's also very articulate, and she's been a very active force in the Republican Party.
The allegation or the issue of smoking marijuana in college, you know, we think is an attempt by the White House to try and get the focus out of smoking, out of the drug problems that came up in the last couple of weeks that have happened in recent times, not 20 years ago. So, we don't see it as an issue that gets in the way.
QUESTION: I'd like to follow up on an earlier question on Buchanan. As you know Buchanan's having a press conference for about 25 minutes.
Since Chairman Barbour had a conversation with Buchanan over the weekend, have there been any conversations between Barbour or the Dole campaign with Mr. Buchanan, and what do you expect he may say today and what do you think the ultimate resolution may be?
MANAFORT: Well, he hasn't said any of his remarks yet. I'm sure I'll receive them one way or another later today. But seriously, there's a lot of communications going back and forth. You know, we've, I've talked to Haley several times a day as far as convention issues are concerned. And Haley talks to other leaders in the campaign as well.
MANAFORT: But again, the point here is what Buchanan will do is up to Buchanan and he's got to decide that. We would like him as part of the, as part of the group, but he has to make his own decisions.
QUESTION: If he does ultimately endorse Dole, will you give him a greater role than the other former candidates?
MANAFORT: I don't know what the greater role other than the other candidates will be. I mean, you know, we'll deal with Buchanan on the kinds of things he wants to do in the campaign, in the general election for Senator Dole, at the point in time when he's willing to sit down and talk.
QUESTION: I didn't quite understand one point you made. You spoke of coordination with a number of supportive coalition groups...
QUESTION: ... in your message delivery. How would that take place?
MANAFORT: Well, in the sense that they all have home pages, that their audiences, if you will, over the course of...
QUESTION: ... might link to you, and so on...
MANAFORT: Exactly right, exactly right.
QUESTION: What kind of coalition groups do you have in mind?
MANAFORT: Well, I mean, everything from the taxpayers associations to some of the Christian groups, to -- you know, I mean, I don't have the list on my tongue. But there are many, many, you know, groups that have been part of the general Republican coalition of course.
QUESTION: How many groups about, would you say, that you might hope to link their home pages?
MANAFORT: Well, I think there were over 50 at last count. There may be more now.
QUESTION: Paul, is there any one person or group of people who have to approve the language of speeches that are given at the convention? And if so, who are they?
MANAFORT: Well, because we're creating political television this time, as opposed to just running a convention irrespective of the clock, the amount of time that each speech takes has to be carefully coordinated.
So, there is an administrative unit within the Committee on Arrangements that Bill Green (ph) is coordinating which is cognizant of the need to keep the training running on time and keep it on the tracks. And so, Bill as convention manager for the Republican National Convention, is overseeing that operation.
QUESTION: Will he have the right to censor or to approve and disapprove content?
MANAFORT: Well, content is important as well in the sense that, again as I talked about, we're creating in our programming, what I call issue segments. So, if somebody is supposed to be talking about welfare reform and they've got a five-minute speech and they want to spend three minutes talking about drugs, it's not going to work.
So, in that sense, there's a coordination, if you will, as you would in any kind of script development. There is a coordination between the speaker and the segment itself and the committee on arrangements as far as content.
But the actual words, if you will, will be for the most part put together by the speakers. We want the speaker's personality, which is why they were chosen, to be clearly a part of what's coming out of the convention.
QUESTION: Aren't there "real people" interviews that you're going to have?
Will they be rehearsed before hand, again because this will be before, hopefully a large audience? What will you do to prep your real, your "real" people, so that when you go to them, you get what you want out of them?
MANAFORT: Well, I mean, prepping is probably too strong a word. We're using them on issues that they've lived and experienced. So, it's not as if we're asking them to -- now, come here and talk about what it's been like to move off of something they haven't experienced.
MANAFORT: And we want to capture their words. I mean, the key in this will part of the trick, actually. I mean, nothing is just going to be pressing buttons here, but part of the trick is if we can get them to be articulate and conscious of time, and we think they will be.
But we don't care -- what's most important to us is that they communicate their feelings and their experiences and the American people see that it's not Republicans in Washington saying, this is the way it is. It's people they can associate with.
MANAFORT: I'm sorry?
MANAFORT: Some of them will be live, some of them will be videotaped.
QUESTION: For those that will be live, will they be rehearsed beforehand? Because for people who aren't in the business, when you go to someone, how do you know they're not...
MANAFORT: Well, that's right. Rehearsed in the sense that we'll be talking with them about what it will be like. But if you're saying we'll give them the words and say, "Say these words"? No.
QUESTION: To what extent is one of your roles rehabilitating and improving the image of the Republican Congress?
MANAFORT: Well, I think the Republican Congress is doing a good job in the last couple of weeks in the kind of legislation it's pushing forward, of proving that the distortion, if not actual misrepresentation, that this Congress is not getting things done.
And certainly part of what we want to do at this convention is to talk about the successes of this Congress because they're important successes, as you've seen with the welfare reform bill now and maybe the health care bill. The whole, just -- things that have been forgotten already in the sense of what they did in the first couple of days when they took control of the Congress and changed the rules and opened up the process.
So, yes. We want the American people to remember these things or become aware of them, and then we want to associate those successes with the Dole agenda, which from an issue standpoint is very similar, so that they can see that a Republican White House and a Republican Congress can make a big difference in moving the country to solving some of the problems that they're concerned about.
QUESTION: You seem to be doing a lot to sort of go around the traditional avenues of press at the hall and network television.
Are you unhappy, I mean, in terms of trying talk radio and trying to reach individual stations? Are you unhappy with the coverage that...
MANAFORT: Well, actually, we're actually not going around, we're going right to. That's the whole point.
In the past, many media outlets because they couldn't afford to be there or because they weren't in the position to have access to us, were bypassed. What we're doing this year is we're expanding the convention and campaign participation and interaction with the media.
So not at all are we going around. We're actually going to be doing -- our communications operation at this convention, for the first time that I've done a convention, is larger than our political organization, which is a recognition in many respects.
And our political organization hasn't shrunk. It's a recognition of importance of massive communications in a convention in today's times. So, we're broadening our outreach, not narrowing it.
QUESTION: Can you explain how Senator Dole still has to tell the Republican Party who he is after a huge nomination battle? I mean, shouldn't they know who he is by now, and shouldn't he have their support?
MANAFORT: Historically, no. I mean, the fact of the matter is they know who he is. They know he's Bob Dole. They know he's a Senator from Kansas. They know he's been in Washington for a number of years and majority leader, but that's not what people vote on. They want to know who the man is.
Believe it or not, most Americans don't know Bob Dole's a war hero. Most Americans don't know about the injury and the rehabilitative process he went through, including Republicans.
And in many respects, if you think about the primary, the primary battle was a lot of people defining Bob Dole in a way that really wasn't Bob Dole, but was part of the competitive political process.
MANAFORT: And notwithstanding all of that, Senator Dole's reputation still allowed him to become the nominee of the party. But he ran out of money at exactly the point in time when he needed to now take that success and broaden the country's impressions and the Republicans impressions of exactly who he was.
It's not unusual. We had the same problem in '88 with Bush. In many respects, we had the same problem in 1980 with Reagan. And what we know from past history is, the convention gives us the opportunity to fix that pretty easily if we do an effective job.
QUESTION: In the last few weeks, it's been reported there is a $ 3 or $ 4 million shortfall to put on the convention. Where does that stand now? And how do you respond to the comments of Governor Wilson that the problem wasn't the amount of money raised, but that the party spent too much money putting it on?
MANAFORT: Outside my pay grade. The convention historically always goes through a last minute timeframe when more money needs to be raised. And it's not because a host committee hasn't done it's job.
But as you're putting on a convention, I mean, just think about it. In the course of a very brief amount of time, you're building this major operation and you're using volunteer forces for the most part -- and they're going to -- and the needs grow as you build the organization.
We expected all along that sometime, you know, 30, 40 days out, that we would have other financial needs. And we had a mechanism set up to raise it and we're in the process of raising it. And we're working with Governor Wilson and the host committee and the RNC, and the job will get done.
QUESTION: Could you give us a typical timeline of a typical day? Like it convenes at such and such a time, what time will Molinari speak? What time do you adjourn? Your emphasis on brisk TV pacing raises that...
MANAFORT: The official program of the convention -- and I think Haley went through some of this the other day -- there will be a day session on Monday. And the day session will basically allow us to do a lot of the official business that we need to do, as well as adopt our platform and our rules and our permanent organization. And then, each night from Monday through Thursday, we'll convene at 5:00 and run for about three hours.
QUESTION: When you get these real people for interviews, will there be any opportunity to find out more about them, to interview them afterwards, to do a reality check on what they say?
QUESTION: How will that be done?
MANAFORT: How will you do it? I don't know.
Their names will be put into the public domain and who they are, and you'll be able to have access to them.
QUESTION: What does it say in terms of message that a number of the headline speakers -- President Bush, Nancy Reagan, Colin Powell, James Baker III -- are headlined, and at the same time there seems to be a lack of some of the freshmen members of Congress or of the Senate? What does that say in terms of message that the Republicans are trying to put forth?
MANAFORT: Well, there isn't a lack. I mean, if you look at the whole list that Haley announced the other day, you have people like J. C. Watts, you have people like Steve Largent.
I mean, you know, we're not focusing on scores and scores of Republican officials. We want to use some of those who represent and reflect the issues and themes that we're talking about and are part of the future of the Republican Party.
MANAFORT: There is also a number of governors that we talk about and we think they're important to use in our message content because they're out there on the front lines. They're -- not that members of Congress aren't doing an important job, but what we're trying to say is, look, Republican solutions that got passed by a Republican Congress with a Republican White House can work and here are examples.
And then we'll show them Illinois. We'll show them Wisconsin. We'll show them places where Republican governors have been in office for a while, and we'll show them people who have benefited from those Republican successes.
QUESTION: Did you just say that the platform will be adopted in a daytime session Monday?
QUESTION: What was the reason for that?
MANAFORT: That's when we usually do it.
QUESTION: There's polling that indicates...
QUESTION: How much of this formatting was planned with women voters in mind?
You've made no mention at all of women as a target audience, and obviously they comprise both Republicans and swing voters. But given the tremendous gap in polls that Dole faces with women, clearly you must have been giving them some thought in planning this kind of format. And you didn't talk about that.
MANAFORT: I didn't get into the demographics. You know, I was giving you voter blocs, if you will. But certainly, women are a targeted audience. And really, if you look at our keynote speaker as an example, you know, we're focusing on that.
But what we've determined is that the issue agenda that women care about are the exact issues that are Republican issues that we're going to be talking about. They're very concerned about crime. They're very concerned about the quality of their education.
Women right now are motivated by economic issues, especially those who are in two-wage earner families, where they're going to work and caught up in this tax trap that they feel they have to work and yet the benefit of the work is going to Washington, not to their families.
So they're clearly an audience an audience that we want to speak to at this convention. And our message, as I've defined it here today, we feel will address exactly the kinds of concerns that are on their minds these days.
QUESTION: Yet there's polling that indicates that when people are reminded of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, that support for Bob Dole declines.
If you're going to, in this convention, if you're going to talk about what the Republican Congress has done and kind of associate the Republican Congress agenda with Senator Dole, are you concerned at all that somehow that will emphasize the connection with Speaker Gingrich that the Clinton campaign clearly wants to make?
MANAFORT: We're confident, especially if you look at the results of the last couple of weeks, as the Republican Congress keeps passing legislation, Speaker Gingrich is going to get more than his fair share of the credit for it. And we're not running away from Speaker Gingrich.
QUESTION: And you're going to let him speak at length at the convention? Or...
MANAFORT: He's the permanent chairman of the convention, and as such, will definitely have a role at the convention. And we're very happy about it.
QUESTION: In light of what happened in Atlanta, have you had to rejigger things at all for security reasons? Has anything changed?
MANAFORT: Well, certainly, already tight security is -- will probably get tighter. What those changes are are being dealt with by Bill Green and the Committee on Arrangements. OK?
One other question and then we've got to go.
QUESTION: Bob Dole's planned announcement of his vice presidential selection a day or two before the convention starts -- is there a risk there that that will step all over your message?
MANAFORT: No. We think it's going to enhance the message. We're confident that Senator Dole's selection for vice president will more than help us, you know, help get our message across.
And, you know, we haven't determined the time yet because the Senator hasn't advised us exactly when he wants to do it. But if he does it in the time frame that's been speculated, it'll work perfectly with our convention message.
Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Aren't you afraid he'll step on Perot?
Robert Dole, Dole Campaign Press Release - Transcript of Press Conference by Paul Manafort, Dole Convention Manger Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/315626