After blowing back-to-back opportunities in 2010 and 2012 to retake control of the Senate—thanks to numerous gaffes by inexperienced candidates—Republicans decided that the 2014 group of candidates would get mandatory media training under the direction of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
According to Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, Manu Raju and John Bresnahan, the NRSC had trackers meet the candidates at the airports as soon as they emerged from security, and whisked them away to begin the media boot camp.
During two days of eight-hour sessions, the candidates practiced in front of a camera and were drilled on policy. They were also shown footage of two of the biggest bumblers from 2012—Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock—as examples of what not to do.
The pros who were there to help the candidates included Jon Kraushar, who handles much of the on-camera training for Fox News, Mitt Romney’s policy director Lanhee Chen and CNN’s S.E. Cupp, who conducted mock interviews to better prepare them for the media questioning that they were likely to experience.
The candidates had to watch each others’ performances as NRSC paid opposition research was thrown at them with practice questions like: Did you smoke pot in college? How much pot did you smoke? Were you ever arrested?, etc.
Moderate candidates were asked to react to the idea of having Sarah Palin endorse them, and conservative candidates about Palin endorsing their opponents.
The end result was on display during the campaign, as Republicans were relatively gaffe-free compared to previous years. They rolled to victory in key states to retake control of the Senate for the first time in eight years, handing President Obama one of the worst mid-term election defeats in recent memory.