RNC Hires ‘Father Of The Modern Attack Ad’ To Run Communications Shop

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CastellanosYesterday, a senior aide to Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Trevor Francis, resigned from his position as communications director. “Trevor’s talents will be missed at the RNC,” said Steele in a statement. “We have accomplished a great deal in the year he was here. He worked tirelessly, as did the whole team, on the victories in Virginia and his home state of New Jersey.”

But Politico’s Jonathan Martin reports that Francis’ abrupt departure was not by choice, quoting two Republican strategists who say that Francis was “pushed out” because Steele “didn’t feel he was getting enough credit for the GOP’s electoral success earlier this month.” Steele apparently attributes this to a communications failure by Francis.

Francis is being replaced by Alex Castellanos, a CNN contributor who fashions himself as the “father of the modern attack ad.” Castellanos is no stranger to the RNC, having received four payments totaling $434,336 from them for media work since July. Castellanos has also been a key player in the effort to stop health care reform:

– His political consulting firm, National Media, was the ad buyer for the insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plan’s (AHIP) recent ad blitz attacking Democratic health reform plans.

— In July, he wrote a memo for the GOP leadership on how to kill health reform that emphasized the use of buzzwords to characterize Democratic plans — like “risky” and “experiment” — but most importantly defined the ultimate goal: “If we slow this sausage-making process down, we can defeat it.”

— He has repeatedly used his pundit perch on CNN to attack President Obama’s health care reform effort, calling it “a big gamble” and an “expensive trillion-dollar experiment.”

Before the health care debate, Castellanos was best known as the creator of the racially-charged “Hands” advertisement, which ran on behalf of former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC). In May 2008, Castellanos defended sexism during the 2008 campaign by saying that sometimes it’s “accurate” to describe a woman as a “bitch.”


Another Castellanos firm, Purple Strategies, also has a contract with the Chamber of Commerce.

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,An “ally” of Steele tells Ben Smith that Francis’ dismissal “was in the works before this month’s election” and that “the chairman and his inner circle” were frustrated by the botched roll out of the RNC website and “concerns that some media inquiries were being ignored, including from African-American outlets.”

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,Sam Stein reports that Castellanos “will continue to serve as an on-air personality for CNN” and “Castellanos will not be paid for his RNC gig and, therefore, will be treated in the same vein as other partisan commentators who advise campaign committees.”

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