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Republicans Launch Opposition Research Firm

Three Republican operatives have launched an opposition research group to serve as a counterweight to the successful Democratic venture, American Bridge 21st Century.

Matt Rhoades, Joe Pounder and Tim Miller have formed America Rising, a group devoted to candidate research, tracking, rapid response and digital tools to help the party define its opposition through research and proactive communication efforts. They hope to put the GOP on equal footing with Democrats, who were widely believed to have a leg up in the research field, something spelled out in the 2012 autopsy report released this week by the Republican National Committee.

America Rising, organized as a limited liability company, will conduct research and provide tracking as a product for Republican campaigns, committees and conservative advocacy groups. Separately, America Rising PAC will serve as the super PAC arm of the organization, focusing on rapid response, communications, social media and digital advertising campaigns.

“We plan to start this enterprise because so many Republicans seem to agree there is a need on our side of the aisle for an entity that is focused solely on holding Democrats accountable for their actions and records using research, candidate tracking, rapid response and digital tools,” Rhoades said in a statement.

Among the goals for America Rising is to begin to define the 2016 Democratic presidential field. Another goal is to train the next generation of GOP operatives — a necessity cited by Republican strategists since the 2012 elections.

Rumors about a GOP group like this forming have been percolating since late last year, with Republicans frustrated by the often vague policy-based research, rather than richer information that looks at a candidate’s character.

All three principals previously worked at the RNC. Rhoades, who managed Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign last year, is a former RNC research director. Pounder just left his role as RNC research director and deputy communications director. Miller served as a deputy communications director at the committee last cycle.

In response to the group’s announcement, American Bridge President Rodell Mollineau complimented the new firm’s leaders but said they will find some challenges as they move forward.

It starts with the differences in the two parties, he said, as American Bridge got some of its best research from the “hypocrisy” that arose from contentious GOP primaries — “where Republicans were saying the most extreme things in order to pander to their tea party base” and then pivoting back for the general.

“I think that they will find that it’s not as easy as it looks,” Mollineau said. “There are definitely some financial, operational and political hurdles that you need to overcome to run a successful organization.”

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