Dick Armey, Luke Russert provide advice to GOP aides at Mount Vernon

More than 100 legislative directors to House Republicans decamped to historic Mount Vernon on Friday for a chance to polish their skills and learn from the pros. 

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The event was organized by the Ripon Society, a GOP policy group named for Ripon, Wis., the town in which the Republican Party was founded in 1854.

Attendees got a wide variety of briefings on topics ranging from the impact of the Tea Party, courtesy of Freedom Works President and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), to the media landscape, in a presentation by NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Luke Russert. 

Despite the emphasis on “new” media outlets in a number of presentations, Russert used a decidedly “old” media whiteboard during his address to the group. One legislative director said it reminded him of the board used by fiery Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck. Another attendee recalled the whiteboard that Russert’s father, the late Tim Russert, memorably used on Election Night of 2000 to write “Florida, Florida, Florida.” 

But the most useful panel might have been the one titled, “Get Me My Legislative Director!” Presented by husband-and-wife team and former New York Republican Reps. Susan Molinari and Bill Paxon, the session focused on what members of Congress expect from an LD.

A few House staffers also addressed the group: Steve Stombres, chief of staff to Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.); Matt Lira, Cantor’s director of new media; Tim Berry, chief of staff to Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.); and Hugh Halpern, staff director of the House Committee on Rules.

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