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This study examines the contribution of New Right leaders Richard Viguerie and Paul Weyrich to the mobilization of the American conservative movement. Based on archival material not previously examined, this study fills a gap in our understanding of the nuts and bolts of campaign organization and fundraising


“All in all, it adds a lot to the understanding of the rise of the New Right. It also provides an interesting perspective on contemporary U.S. politics.” – Prof. Erik Asard, Uppsala University

“The result is a very detailed, very well-informed, and most fascinating look into the machine room of campaigning and coalition building. As such, it is a must-read for everyone who would like to understand how Ronald Reagan, who just a few years before had been widely perceived as too conservative to ever win the Republican nomination, could suddenly become the central political figure of this era. The successful merging of new groups of social conservatives into the Republican base helps explain how and why women’s rights and topics such as gay-rights and school prayer suddenly became the major fronts in the nation’s partisan struggle.” – Prof. Niels Bjerre-Poulsen, Copenhagen Business School

“The book makes a valuable contribution to the developing historiography of modern American conservatism. Over the past decade, this has become one of the most vibrant fields within the study of the twentieth-century United States. In offering his distinctive study of the New Right's arrival, Tønnessen enhances our understanding of the importance of leaders in mobilizing conservative support.” – Dr. Robert Mason , University of Edinburgh

Table of Contents

Foreword by Prof. Erik Asard, Uppsala University
1: Seizing Opportunities: Viguerie and Weyrich go to Washington to make a difference
The C-student who becomes the Right’s direct-mail pioneer
The journalist who urges conservatives to cooperate
The meaning of Goldwater’s 1964 presidential defeat
2: Conservatives v. Nixon
Criticism of the Nixon presidency by the New Right and the Manhattan Twelve
Congressman Ashbrook challenges President Nixon
Weyrich helps elect conservative Republicans to the House in 1972
3: Creating an infrastructure on the Right: How Viguerie, Weyrich, Phillips, and Dolan help launch the New Right
Weyrich’s role in the establishment of the Heritage Foundation
Joseph Coors and the Coors Company
Weyrich’s early departure from Heritage and the founding of CSFC
The founding of the Republican Study Committee and the Senate Steering Committee
Ford picks Rockefeller: The defining moment that launches the New Right
The 1974 Finance Reform: A boost to Viguerie’s direct-mail empire
Phillips’ Conservative Caucus and Dolan’s NCPAC
4: Abandoning the Disabled Tank: The New Right’s New Majority Strategy, the 1976 elections, and 1977 successes
Viguerie cooperates with Rusher on the New Majority Party strategy
Viguerie criticizes Republicans in Conservative Digest
Viguerie’s fundraising miracle in Montana
Reagan loses an opportunity: The 1976 presidential election
Viguerie for vice-president and the failure of the third-party strategy
Weyrich’s PAC and the 1976 congressional elections
Orrin Hatch: The unknown who captures a Senate seat
The New Right wins 1977 special elections
Forming a “shadow cabinet” and defeating President Carter’s election laws proposals
5: The Power to Punish: The Panama Canal “Giveaway” and the 1978 Midterm Elections
The agreement with Panama supported by the establishment
Conservatives argue against the treaties
The New Right’s campaign to prevent ratification of the treaties
Losing the vote on the treaties; adding new names of conservatives to Viguerie’s list
The New Right and Labor
Viguerie gets ready for the 1978 midterm elections
Criticism of Viguerie’s fundraising and tension between the New Right and the GOP
Coming of Age: CSFC expands its operation before the 1978 elections
The New Right challenges liberal Republicans
Humphrey defeats Senator McIntyre
Jepsen unseats Senator Clark
Armstrong beats Senator Haskell
Weyrich refuses to help George W. Bush and Senator Percy
CSFC and other congressional races
6: Fighting Communism and Naïve Liberals: The New Right’s foreign policy campaigns and goals, 1977-1980
Blaming the liberals for America’s number two position
The effort to stop SALT II
Standing up for Taiwan
7: “Kicking the Sleeping Dog”: Mobilizing the Evangelicals and the Emergence of the Christian Right
Conservatives turn to cultural issues
The IRS threatens Christian private schools
Ed McAteer introduces the New Right to evangelical leaders
Persuading Jerry Falwell to establish the Moral Majority
James Robison’s Freedom Rally
The Christian Voice and the Religious Roundtable
Paul Weyrich, Connaught Marshner, a new foundation, and new coalitions
Viguerie’s Day of Fasting and Prayer proposal
8: Taking the White House: The New Right and the Christian Right Help Reagan Defeat Carter
Viguerie raises money for presidential candidates Crane and Connally, questions Reagan’s leadership abilities
Reagan gains ground among conservatives; Carter is repudiated by evangelicals
The White House Conference on Families hurts President Carter
Selection of Bush angers the New Right; the GOP party platform positive
“I endorse you”: Reagan embraces the Christian Right
The issue of race in Reagan’s campaign
Winning the debate against Carter
The role of religious voters in Reagan’s landslide victory
9: Helping the GOP Take the Senate, Make Gains in the House
CSFC’s vital role in the election of Senator Jeremiah Denton
Weyrich’s contribution to the election of Senator Steve Symms
CSFC and the victories of Nickles, Grassley, and Abdnor
CSFC and other races for the Senate and the House The New Right’s interpretations of the 1980 election results
10: Concerns and Expectations at the Dawn of the Reagan Presidency
Reactions to Reagan’s appointments
The New Congress: Conservative committee chairs and Gingrich’s coalition building
The New Right’s early assessments of the Reagan presidency
11: The Enduring Activism of Viguerie and Weyrich, 1981-2008
The decline of the New Right in the 1980s
Weyrich’s foundation helps people in the Soviet Union build a free society
Weyrich’s long culture war
Weyrich, the Arlington Group, and the 2004 triumph
Viguerie feels betrayed by President George W. Bush
Weyrich and “the next conservatism”
Viguerie believes in a “third force,” not a third party
The 2008 presidential election
Conservatives praise Weyrich

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