WHEN THE RNC STOPS BEING POLITE, AND STARTS GETTING REAL…. As outrageous as Republican rhetoric can be when party officials are speaking into a microphone, it’s even more jarring to learn what they’re saying when they think no one is listening. Ben Smith had this major scoop yesterday:

The Republican National Committee plans to raise money this election cycle through an aggressive campaign capitalizing on “fear” of President Barack Obama and a promise to “save the country from trending toward socialism.”

The strategy was detailed in a confidential party fundraising presentation, obtained by POLITICO, which also outlines how “ego-driven” wealthy donors can be tapped with offers of access and “tchochkes.”

The presentation was delivered by RNC Finance Director Rob Bickhart to top donors and fundraisers at a party retreat in Boca Grande, Florida on February 18, a source at the gathering said.

The party’s fundraising presentation suggests the Republican National Committee thinks its own supporters are idiots. All the party has to do is exploit contributors’ “fears,” and expect the checks to come rolling in.

And to stoke those fears, the RNC’s message to these dupes includes telling them that contributions to Republicans will help “save the country from trending toward socialism!” One slide in the presentation refers to U.S. leaders as “the Evil Empire,” with a picture of the president as the Joker from Batman, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Cruella DeVille, and Senate Majority Leaders Harry Reid as Scooby Doo.

How did such a document reach the media? It wasn’t leaked: “The 72-page document was provided to POLITICO by a Democrat, who said a hard copy had been left in the hotel hosting the $2,500-a-head retreat, the Gasparilla Inn & Club.”


Republican officials are, not surprisingly, scrambling to downplay the significance of the fundraising presentation, and hoping to distance Steele from the humiliation. But the damage appears to have been done — when we peak behind the curtain, the Republican National Committee has no respect for its own supporters, and fully admits that it has little more than cheap and baseless fear-mongering to offer.

DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse said in a statement, “If you had any doubt, any doubt whatsoever, that the Republican Party has been taken over by the fear-mongering lunatic fringe, those doubts were erased today…. It’s no wonder the RNC reacted with alarm when they learned the American people would see this presentation. This revealing document proves what the Republican party has long denied. But now, by their own admission, the express strategy of the Republican party is not to offer new ideas, but ‘fear.’ Republicans can no longer deny that they are peddling fear when they are literally selling it as their path back to power.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.