Note the date on this letter to then-Governor Bush. I was on board with the future President when John McCain was a strong GOP contender, before the 2000 Primaries and the amazing general election vs. Al Gore.
June 30, 1999
Governor George W. Bush
504 Lavaca, Ste. 1010
Austin, TX 78701
Re.: 2000 Presidential campaign
Dear Governor Bush:
I am very disturbed. I am disturbed as an American, and particularly as a Republican. I am disturbed also because I feel this letter will not be read seriously, because I wrote this to Bob Dole in 1996, and to the R.N.C. before the 1998 Congressional elections, and I either got a form letter back or nothing at all.
I am disturbed, Governor, because I believe if the G.O.P. would have followed my simple advice, we would have a Republican in the White House, a solid majority in Congress and in the states’, and we would not be desperately trying to curry public favor in this horrendous “stained dress” scandal.
I will make this as short and sweet as I can. What it comes down is this: Win on the issues. Stay above-board. We do not need negative politics. Stay above the fray.
President Bill Clinton is riding high. Why? Because of the strong economy. Well, if and when you campaign in 2000, this is what you need to say:
The economy is strong because of the Republican Congress that was elected in 1994. Clinton wanted to push a massive tax hike (he did in ’93) and a boondoggle health care revolution, but it was the Republicans who stopped him. The strong economy is more the result of the Republican Contract with America than Clinton’s policies.
Next, emphasize this:
The strong economy is not just the result of Republican policies that emanate from the Contract. We are seeing something that may only be recognized by future historians, but we have the vision to interpret the fact that what we are actually reaping the peace dividends from our Cold War triumph! The press talked about this in 1990-91, but it was unrealistic to expect to see these kinds tectonic of changes so soon. Now that the Cold War is won, money earmarked towards defense is now spent in other places—or saved. Smart people displaced by the shrinking military industrial complex have landed on their feet in an entrepreneurial, information-driven society.
Next, stay with that point and point out that:
The Cold War was won by many dedicated Americans. Harry Truman deserves some credit. So does George Kennan, John Kennedy, even Lyndon Johnson. But it was Republican hard-line refusal to back down against the Communists, during a time when liberals in the U.S. and Great Britain advocated just such a dovish policy, that eventually won the Cold War. Richard Nixon outlined this policy, Henry Kissinger implemented his plan, Ronald Reagan had the vision to boldly carry it further, and George Bush closed the deal!. He, along with Reagan and a great American named Caspar Weinberger, are as responsible as anybody for a victory that is the reason we enjoy peace and prosperity in 1999.
I am not finished:
Republicans have won the domestic war, too! Victory is ours. That sounds crazy at first, but here is what it is. The old-time liberal is no more. The McGovernites, those who advocated the Great Society, that mode of political thinking is as outdated as prohibition. However, point out that so far we have won a Pyrhic victory. We won, but at what cost? Bill Clinton is successful only because he was smart enough to steal our ideas and cloak himself in moderately conservative clothing. The public likes conservative policies, so why not elect conservatives? This is the cornerstone of your campaign, not just for yourself as a Presidential candidate, but as the leader of a party reviving a movement—the most powerful and effective movement in the post-World War II era: The Reagan revolution. Furthermore, does anybody truly believe that, left to their own
devices, the Democrats would continue these conservative policies? They act like moderate conservatives only because they are disciplined by a G.O.P. Congress. If Republicans do not maintain a solid majority, if Democrats get the Congress back along with the White House, they will revert to their old ways, because it is in their nature. You cannot change the stripes of the liberal tiger. Throughout all the changes, Republican philosophies remain rock solid. It is the Democrats who shift with the wind. The public, as it stands, like this “checks and balances” form of government. Our campaign must emphasize that what they like is when Democrats stop acting like Democrats. Therefore, it is logical that rather than electing Democrats who do not act like Democrats (but in their hearts are yearning to do so), we should elect a party that will implement proven, successful policies with enough teeth in them to stand the test of time!
I believe you need to drive these points home over and over and over. Make everybody understand this simple message: Take credit, take credit and take more credit. Declare victory, and educate the press and the public on why it is that we have won. Facts, and history, are firmly on our side. Republicans are the real thing. We won’t change.
As for abortion and the like, these need not be major campaign issues . We must gain power, then we can implement all the changes we want. First gain power. The way to do it is to drumbeat this powerful, simple message in a moderate, non-threatening manner. The beautiful part of it is that it is simple, direct, honest, informative and positive! What could be better than that?
Do not let the Democrats capture the right side of history. Republicans own the patent, but we must renew that patent in every election. We saw the future when nobody else did, and despite many detractors, we harvested unprecedented peace and prosperity!! I know you are your own man, but you have a unique opportunity, because of your name, to maximize this link to historical greatness.
I know you have a lot of fancy policy wonks feeding you advice, but I think what I have to say can be very helpful to you, our party and this country. Just stay the course.
Briefly, I have worked in Republican politics, and I met your brother, Neil, at the 1988 California Republican Convention. I stumped for Reagan and your father, and I managed the Congressional campaign of Republican Bill Boerum, who garnered more votes in a liberal San Francisco district against Congresswoman Barbara Boxer than any opponent in her House career.
Very truly yours,
STEVEN R. TRAVERS
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism