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Benjamin Ginsberg, a partner at Patton Boggs who specializes in election law, has long been a mainstay in Republican politics on both the state and federal level. He is currently serving as national counsel to former Massachusetts�Gov. Mitt Romney (R) in his bid for the White House — a role Ginsberg played for the Bush-Cheney campaigns in both 2000 and 2004. Ginsberg also currently serves as counsel to the Republican Governors Association. Last week the veteran GOP lawyer sat down with Legal Times ‘ Anna Palmer to discuss his decision to work for Romney, his role in the campaign, and how big money will affect the 2008 presidential campaign.
LT: What made you decide to sign on with Romney’s campaign? Ginsberg: I was extremely lucky in the fact that I was representing five people who were looking to run for president in their activities before this cycle began. Gov. Romney just struck me as the man who should be president. I like the people working with him, him, his family, and his background.
LT: After signing on with Romney, does the firm represent other presidential candidates? Ginsberg: No.
LT: What are the main things as national counsel you find yourself doing? Ginsberg: It is a many-millions-of-dollars startup business, so you have all the issues that go along with a startup, combined with the really fun election-law work, ballot-access work, delegate-selection work. So the issues will range from donor questions on how to raise money legally to how you get your candidate on the ballot in different states and the implications of the disintegration of the public-financing rules to the slew of states that are going to [have their primaries] on Feb. 5 or before.
LT: Are there any issues that are going to be unique to this election compared to others? Ginsberg: I think this is a very different presidential cycle from the others I’ve been involved in, especially for Republicans. It is the first presidential primary where there is no heir apparent. The whole money situation makes it very different. It used to be, you were a presidential campaign, and you would try to raise $20 million and take the matching money. And now — we really got to experience it in the Bush-Cheney campaigns — but now there is no limit on how much you need to raise. That is particularly true because of the way the primary calendar is shaping up, which will just make this unique in terms of the way campaigns think about not only fund-raising but the politics of getting nominated.
LT: Do you raise money for Romney yourself? Ginsberg: Oh sure, a little bit. I’m not reluctant to hit up my friends, but that’s not what my focus is. There are other folks here at the firm who are very much more involved in the direct fund-raising side of things than I am.
LT: Do you expect organizations like the Swift Boat Veterans or 527s to play as big of a role in this election? Ginsberg: Oh yeah, absolutely. The whole problems with the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance system have really empowered outside groups to play, I think, a major, a major role. And, the more things change, the more they become the same. They are already lining up to play major, major roles.
LT: Do you think people were surprised by how high his fund-raising numbers were in the first quarter? Ginsberg: I think it’s a real testament to his message and his abilities that it was so high.
LT: Do you expect them to be raising at the same clip in the next quarter? Ginsberg: I think if you look at it historically, the second quarter that you are engaged in full-fledged fund-raising is more challenging. I think the Romney campaign is certainly up to the effort.
LT: As the election continues on, will you be focusing on different things? Ginsberg: The issues evolve as the calendar of the campaign evolves. I help out with the debate negotiations, and that’s starting up soon. The whole issue of ballot access will kick off once the rules of each of the states are finalized. Each one of the 50 states and additional territories has a different set of rules for ballot access and delegate selection, so that will take up a lot of time. The issues about how to raise money are sort of prevalent throughout. The issues of how to spend money kick in as you get closer to the first primaries.
Working Lunch appears every other week in Legal Times .

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