News that Ed Gillespie would be joining the Mitt Romney campaign as a senior adviser should be taken as a good sign by movement conservatives.
To be sure, having served as RNC chairman and as a Bush adviser, he is a member of the establishment. But he also has serious movement conservative credentials. He worked for Dick Armey during the time of the Contract With America, and chaired a regular meeting of conservative staffers on the Hill. In 2000, he backed John Kasich’s exploratory commitee.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Gillespie (who has an Irish-Catholic background) takes time to attend movement conservative events. He’s frequently spotted at Grover Norquist’s Wednesday meetings — and at events like the Susan B. Anthony List’s pro-life dinners.
This is important because movement conservatives I’ve talked to trust Gillespie and feel he is accessible — something that hasn’t always been the case with Team Romney. (Interestingly, he was a source for a story I wrote a while ago on how Romney could woo conservatives.)
Finally, I’m back to agreeing with Jennifer Rubin who says,
[T]he addition of Gillespie is a positive sign that the Romney camp is not as isolated or defensive as some imagine. They understood enough to go outside the Boston circle and grab someone with national experience and perspective. That recognition that Romney and the campaign must raise their game should reassure nervous party insiders.
It’s not just party insiders.