The Republican National Committee has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate, according to people involved. The secretive effort underscores the enormous risk senior GOP operatives see for a party often criticized for its insensitivity to minorities in campaigns dating back to the 1960s.
The RNC project is viewed as so sensitive that those involved in the work were reluctant to discuss the findings in detail.
..."Republicans will need to exercise less deafness and more deftness in dealing with a different looking candidate, whether it is a woman or a black man," Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway said. "But at the same time, really charge back at any insinuation or accusation of sexism or racism.
"You can't allow the party to be Macaca-ed," she continued, referring to a much-publicized remark made by former GOP Sen. George Allen that played a significant role in his 2006 defeat. "I think the standards are higher and the bar is lower for the Republican Party."
Republicans interviewed for this story uniformly believe they will have to be especially careful. Many expect to be held to a higher rhetorical standard than is customary in campaigns, in part because of perceptions of intolerance that still dog the party.
As Pam said, "perceptions"? If you have a report like this coming out of your party, racism and sexism aren't perceptions, they're facts.