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Roll Call: CPAC Campaign Boot Camp Trains GOP to Catch Up

Read full Roll Call piece highlighting Ned Ryun’s participation in the CPAC Activism Boot Camp here.

CPAC Campaign Boot Camp Trains GOP to Catch Up

By Kyle Trygstad

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Amethyst Archer probably wasn’t the targeted audience for the campaign boot camp held on the eve of the Conservative Political Action Conference, but the presenters made it clear the right needs all the help it can get in 2016 and beyond.

The Tulsa, Okla., resident is just 12 years old, and was the youngest of the few hundred activists and operatives — ranging from college students to senior citizens — who sat in for at least a portion of CPAC’s first-ever basic training for running effective, modern campaigns.

On Wednesday, the day before the festivities kicked off at a conference known for its late-night parties, boot-camp attendees were informed they’d need to stay until the end to receive the after-party admittance wristband and a chance to meet Ben Carson, a conservative favorite and poised-to-be presidential candidate.

What they heard in the four-hour course, run by the conservative grass-roots organizing group American Majority, was that the Obama campaign’s ground game in 2012 was unrivaled and Democrats have a leg up from the local to national level.

“My hope is … to start emphasizing more the training, the equipping,” said Ned Ryun, the CEO of both American Majority and database technology company Voter Gravity. “It’s one thing to have good ideas, but unless you’re putting in place a systematic approach to action and equipping people to be successful … all we’re doing is having nice conversations about good ideas.”

Ryun, son of former Republican Rep. Jim Ryun of Kansas, originally hoped to bring in his top technologists from Voter Gravity for an advanced training on topics such as proper database structure. He opted to simply cover the basics.

His presentation on get-out-the-vote and database technology highlighted the number of volunteer staging locations, newly registered voters and other impressive ground-game data points where the Obama campaign dominated Mitt Romney in 2012. Ryun emphasized the importance of data integration in a campaign’s field operation — including volunteer organization, voter information collection and door-knocking walk lists — and said it’s frustrating “how many people still use paper and pen.”

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