Blast from the Past: The 2009 RNC Chairman Debate

The 2009 RNC Chairman Debate was the first in the history of the party broadcast live on television.

Scroll to 3:48 minutes in to see Michael Steele's pitch -- and just how consistent his message, with its emphasis on the grassroots and brash talk, has been since he first laid it out.

And here's a thought experiment: Listen also to South Caroline Republican Party chair Katon Dawson starting at 5:52 minutes in, and imagine what the past two years would have been like had he been the face and voice of the GOP, especially right after Obama was elected.

Dawson was the last man standing against Steele, who ultimately beat him in the sixth round of balloting to win the chairmanship.

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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