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              Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus gestures while speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, Monday, March 18, 2013. The RNC formally endorsed immigration reform on Monday and outlined plans for a $10 million outreach to minority groups _ gay voters among them _ as part of a strategy to make the GOP more "welcoming and inclusive" for voters who overwhelmingly supported Democrats in 2012.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Republicans desire new outside opposition research group to track Democrats

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Plenty of Republican-affiliated organizations do opposition research on their opponents. But they can improve their efforts tracking and exploiting every move made by Democrats, according to the drafters of a 100-page report of recommendations submitted to the Republican National Committee on Monday.

The review, which resulted from the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project, argues there’s a need for a new, well-funded outside group to serve as the ultimate resource for opposition research of Democratic candidates.

“Well-funded conservative groups should seek to hire activists to track Democrat incumbents and candidates with video cameras constantly recording their every movement, utterance, and action,” the report states.

Added the report: “An allied group dedicated solely to research to establish a private archive and public website that does nothing but post inappropriate Democrat utterances and act as a clearinghouse for information on Democrats would serve as an effective vehicle for affecting the public issue debate.”

In an interview Monday, Henry Barbour, the national Republican committeeman from Mississippi who drafted the language in the review, told The Daily Caller that Republicans can improve their efforts in tracking Democrats.

“I think they did do a good job of it,” Barbour told TheDC, referring to previous efforts by conservatives tracking Democrats. “But I think we got to do a better job.”

“I do think if you had a group that was focused on it that had responsibility to take the lead on tracking, then we’d have a lot more success,” he said.

A number of outside liberal organizations — including the Center for American Progress, which runs the blog ThinkProgress, and American Bridge, which is affiliated with Media Matters — devote substantial resources to opposition research on Republicans.

The RNC report noted that liberal groups were successful in digging up dirt on Republicans.

“The Democrats played in our primaries and spent more money than ever before attacking Governor Romney and other Republicans,” the report stated. “They tried to pick our nominees and soften up our candidates early in the process.”

On the Republican side, however, there isn’t a comparable organization — yet.

“I expect this kind of entity will be formed soon,” said Michael Goldfarb, who runs the Center for American Freedom and its website, the Free Beacon. Goldfarb suggested, however, that CAF would not be that organization.

Barbour said there’s a need for such an outside operation, saying Republicans would really stand to benefit “if campaigns and campaign committees knew there was a trustworthy, reliable outfit that was gathering all this information and really doing it from a bottom up perspective and really had the people out in the field doing it.”

“This is a serious undertaking. There are a lot of people you’re trying to chase. … I think that it could really make a difference,” he said.

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