By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
He helped craft the House GOP 1994 Contract With America, was declared the hottest pollster in the country, and just performed a political triple-double: Advising governors and House and Senate members from both parties. So, is Frank Luntz, the former Republican golden boy who provided the party with so many winning words and phrases, the model of modern, Obama-style bipartisanship or a GOP traitor?
In Washington, where everything seems black or white, it's hard to say. Luntz simply says he's on fire, chalking up his expanded business and full calendar of speeches to his 2008 election dial-testing of voters for Fox News Channel. "Everyone saw my dial sessions, the debate analysis, the ad tests, and the accurate prognosis. Now, everyone wants to apply what they saw and figure out what they can learn from it," he says. "I see no reason not to provide the analyses for those who want it."
Democrats cheer. "Frank has been helpful as we continue to develop our broad-base strategy," says a House operative. Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, adds: "To the extent that Senator Reid likes to hear from pollsters, which is rarely if ever, he always appreciates hearing what Frank has to say." And, he adds, "it has the added benefit of making Republicans mad."
Yup. While still a fave among many Republicans, like the leaders he dined with on Inauguration Day and House caucus he still advises, some are repelled by his Democratic outreach. Says one Senate GOP leadership aide: "Perhaps Luntz should dial test the following phrase: Benedict Frank turned traitor after his overhyped snake oil-like presentations failed to impress."
Luntz, polishing a new book,What Americans Really Want … Really, shrugs it off, pleased he's still in demand despite selling his polling company last year and moving to California. Quoting the Godfather III, he tells us, "Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in."
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