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FounderGovernor Pete du Pont
Headquarters1201 Wilson Ave Suite 2110 Arlington, VA 22209
Key people
Revenue$400,057 (2013)

GOPAC is a Republican (GOP) state and local political training organization. Although often thought of as a PAC, or Political Action Committee, it is actually a 527 organization.


GOPAC was founded by Delaware Governor Pierre S. du Pont, IV in 1978 in "an effort to build a farm team of Republican officeholders who could then run for congress or higher state offices later".[1] On February 1, 2007, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele became the chairman and served until his election as chairman of the Republican National Committee in January 2009. The current chairman of GOPAC is David Avella.[1]

Others who have chaired GOPAC include former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, former Georgia Representative and Secretary of the Army Bo Callaway, California Representative David Dreier, Arizona Representative John Shadegg, former Oklahoma Representative J.C. Watts, Gay Gaines, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia.[2]

Instructional tapes used to train aspiring Republican politicians from 1986 to 1994 were selected by the Library of Congress as a 2010 addition to the National Recording Registry for their influence in "shaping political discourse". The Library of Congress selects recordings annually that are "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[3]

GOPAC memo of 1990[edit]

Drawing rhetorical inspiration from Newt Gingrich, GOPAC wrote and distributed a memo to Republican Party legislative candidates in 1990.[4] The memo, which came from a list drawn up by Frank Luntz,[5] called "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control", contained a list of "contrasting words" and "optimistic positive governing words" that Gingrich recommended for use in describing Democrats and Republicans, respectively. For example, words to use against opponents include decay, failure (fail), collapse(ing), deeper, crisis, urgent(cy), destructive, destroy, sick, pathetic, lie, radical, liberal, they/them, unionized bureaucracy, betray, consequences, limit(s), shallow, traitors, sensationalists,"compassion" is not enough; words to use in defining an opposing candidate's own campaign and vision included share, change, opportunity, legacy, challenge, control, truth, moral, courage, reform, prosperity, crusade, movement, children, family, debate, compete, active(ly), we/us/our, candid(ly), humane, pristine, provide. Al Franken, a comedian and later a U.S. senator from Minnesota, wrote that GOP candidates were drilled to adopt three basic techniques in debating: "Go Negative Early"; "Don't Try to Educate"; "Never Back Off". Minor details were relevant only to 'demolish the opposition'.[6]

The cover page of the memo said: "The words in that paper are tested language from a recent series of focus groups where we actually tested ideas and language."[7][8]

The comic strip Doonesbury mentions the memo in a strip, calling it the "Magna Carta of attack politics."[9]


  1. ^ a b "Chairman's Corner". GOPAC. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  2. ^ Moughty, Sarah (December 21, 2011). "The Long March of Newt Gingrich: Part Five". Frontline. PBS. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  3. ^ "The National Recording Registry 2010". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  4. ^ "Political Memo; For G.O.P. Arsenal, 133 Words to Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  5. ^ Al Franken 1996 p.253.
  6. ^ Al Franken, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, Bantam Books 1996 pp.154-164, 154.
  7. ^ "Language: A Key Mechanism of Control". Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. February 1995. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  8. ^ "GOPAC Memo on Language (1990)". Archived from the original on September 2, 2013.
  9. ^ Trudeau, Garry (September 21, 2008). "Doonesbury". G.B. Trudeau.

External links[edit]