The New York Times pointed out the presences of longtime GOP 'wise man' and veteran Washington lobbyist, Charlie Black, in presidential nominee presumptive Mitt Romney's entourage. Black has been a key figure in the campaigns of Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and John McCain.
While it is easy to criticize Black as the consummate establishment Republican and Washington insider, few understand the pivotal role that Black played in Reagan's 1976 campaign, which laid the groundwork for Reagan's successful 1980 campaign, reelection in 1984 and the Reagan revolution.
It is a credit to Black's discipline, judgment, tact, and knowledge that the Ford people were happy to have Black ride shotgun with Vice Presidential nominee, Bob Dole, after the bitter Ford-Reagan Kansas City Convention.
After the Ford defeat, Republican National Committee Chair Bill Brock brought Black to the Republican National Committee with Reagan's blessing. Black helped rebuild the party's infrastructure while ensuring no "Stop-Reagan" cabal existed at 310 First Street SE, RNC Headquarters.
In 1976 Black recruited a seasoned group of national operatives who out-maneuvered the Ford campaign in the late stages of the squabble for delegates after smashing Reagan primary victories in Texas, Indiana and California. Black had the unenviable job of running interference with conservatives for inscrutable Reagan campaign chief John P. Sears, who didn't suffer fools gladly. Black maintained cordial relations with conservative leaders and Party officials alike.
Charlie Black came out of Young Americans for Freedom and the ascendant conservative wing of the Young Republicans in the 1970s. He worked both on the campaign and on the U.S. Senate staff of Senator Jesse Helms. Black was recruited by Sears for Reagan's '76 effort, a job he reprised in 1980. Black is a master political mechanic, respected for his discretion, his balanced nature and his deep experience.
In 1980, Black resigned from the Reagan campaign on the day of Reagan's smashing victory in the New Hampshire primary. Reagan bested George Bush, who won a surprise victory in the Iowa caucus after a famous debate in which Reagan demanded Bush admit the other Republican candidates, Bob Dole, Phil Crane, Howard Baker, and John Anderson to what had been billed as a two-man debate. This was an elaborate setup by Sears. Many key Reagan operatives played key roles in setting Bush up in the Nashua debate, including former New Hampshire GOP State Chairman Jerry Carman.
Sears was fired on the night of his greatest triumph. Black chose to resign with him, although virtually every Reagan operative at all levels of the campaign sought his advice in the General Election with Carter. It is a testimony to Black's indispensability to the modern Republican Party that by 1984 he was back as a Senior Advisor to the Reagan-Bush '84 committee. Romney is both wise and lucky to have him.