Chip Saltsman, former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and more recently campaign manager for the Mike Huckabee for President effort, officially declared his candidacy today to become chairman of the Republican National Committee.
The announcement took place in the office of Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, who was on hand along with former U.S. Senator Bill Frist to endorse Saltsman.
Ramsey stated that Republicans in Tennessee have the majority because Saltsman wouldn't take no for an answer and laid the foundation for their recent successes.
"If not for Chip," Ramsey said, "Al Gore would have been elected president but instead Tennessee went for George W. Bush in 2000."
Saltsman served as chair for Tennessee Republicans during the 2000 campaign cycle.
Frist said that he often asked how Tennessee bucked the national Democratic tide this past election cycle and said, "People say 'what's in the water in Tennessee?' The quickest most succinct answer I can give is Chip Saltsman.
He went on to call Saltsman a person of "strength, strategy, vision, and character" and that he would bring "principled leadership to the role." Frist closed by saying that nobdoy was better suited to be chair of the Republican National Committee.
After thanking Ramsey and Frist for their support, Saltsman said that the way Republicans can win nationally is to stay true to their "good conservative message." He added that the GOP brand is not what it should be right now and "our actions have not matched our words." If elected, Saltsman said that the first thing he would do is to "take the members only sign off of the country club."
The election for chairman of the RNC will be held on January 28 by secret ballot. Republican state party chairs and two national committee members from each state are the voters in the election, of which 85 votes are needed.
Shortly after the press conference ended, members of the media attempted to ask Frist about the governor's race and whether he would be a candidate. Frist declined to answer, stating that he was only here for Saltsman. When asked if he had a timeline for making a decision, Frist employed a Washington, D.C. trick by turning his back on reporters and quickly walking down the hall and ignoring any attempts to be spoken to.
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