Morning must-read: Can young, tech-savvy Republicans overthrow their party’s disconnected old guard?

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Can young Republican dissidents rise up and drag their party into the 21st century.? That’s the question asked by Robert Draper in a cover story for the New York Times Magazine. Here is an excerpt:

Romney’s senior strategist, Stuart Stevens, may well be remembered by historians, as one House Republican senior staff member put it to me, ‘as the last guy to run a presidential campaign who never tweeted.’ (‘It was raised many times with him,’ a senior Romney official told me, ‘and he was very categorical about not wanting to and not thinking it was worth it.’) With palpable envy, they describe the forward-leaning impulses of the Obama campaign: Axelrod’s tweeting endlessly; the deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter’s becoming a YouTube dynamo with her sassy Web rebuttals to the Romney campaign; Jim Messina’s traveling westward to receive wisdom from Eric Schmidt, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg. … The person they are seeking is the Republican incarnation of David Plouffe – the seemingly unremarkable Hill staffer and itinerant consultant who, like the Howard Dean strategist Joe Trippi before him, recognized that the only way his relatively unknown and underfinanced candidate could prevail over the front-runner would be to muster a guerrilla operation. …

I asked Plouffe, wasn’t the G.O.P. just one postmodern presidential candidate – say, a Senator Marco Rubio – away from getting back into the game? Pouncing, he replied: ‘Let me tell you something. The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don’t give a damn about Marco Rubio, the Tea Party Cuban-American from Florida. You know what? We won the Cuban vote! And it’s because younger Cubans are behaving differently than their parents. It’s probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign. So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems – it’s not even sophomoric; it’s juvenile! And by the way: the bigger problem they’ve got with Latinos isn’t immigration. It’s their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president’s health care bill the most? Latinos.’ …

The Republicans did in fact recently have a David Plouffe of their own . … Referring to the campaign that re-elected George W. Bush, Plouffe told me: ‘You know how in fantasy baseball you imagine putting up your team against the 1927 Yankees? We would’ve liked to have faced off against the 2004 Republicans. Beating the Clintons’ – during the 2008 primaries – ‘that was, in terms of scale of difficulty, significantly above beating Romney. But going up against the Bushies – that would’ve been something we all would’ve relished. … [Campaign manager Ken] Mehlman got technology and organization’ … He added that he and Mehlman were friends, and that during the 2012 cycle, Mehlman – who had been informally advising the Romney campaign – was also ‘very free with advice about structure, how they dealt with an incumbent president, how they dealt with debate prep.’ (Similarly, the former Bush senior strategist Matthew Dowd told me that Axelrod reached out to him for advice and they sat down together. ‘Which never happened with me and Romney-world.’)

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.