Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman advised the White House on how President Obama should announce his support for gay marriage.
A Harvard classmate of Obama’s, Mehlman told the president over a White House lunch that it was politically viable to reverse his position and support gay marriage, according to a report in The New York Times.
Mehlman also emailed with top Obama aide David Plouffe, to suggest Obama announce his support in a TV interview with a female host, and recommended the president frame the decision as a family decision and not about politics.
Obama eventually used an interview with ABC News journalist Robin Roberts to make public his decision.
Mehlman told the Times that he conducted a survey of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and found most supported some form of legal recognition for gay relationships. He also found that the issue of same-sex marriage had low salience for Republican voters, so the president reversing course would not damage him politically.
“The notion that politically this is going to kill you — I don’t buy it,” Mehlman said.
Since the president’s announcement, support for same-sex marriage has increased substantially. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released last month found nearly six in 10 Americans supported gay marriage, with just a third opposed. A Pew Research survey released last month also found that 61 percent of Republican voters age 29 and younger support allowing same-sex couples to marry.