Paleoconservative or Moderate? Questions for Staffing the Next G.O.P. White House.

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By Ketrin Agustine

The Heritage Foundation asks applicants for a future Republican administration a series of questions about their ideology, showing the extent to which “America First” has shaped the modern G.O.P.

An influential conservative group is using a questionnaire to test the ideology of potential recruits for the next Republican presidential administration — and the questions reveal the extent to which former President Donald J. Trump has transformed the conservative movement in his image.

The questionnaire by the group, the Heritage Foundation, includes questions that suggest it is screening for applicants who want to embrace tariffs, reduce America’s military footprint overseas and remove executive branch officials who obstruct the president’s agenda. The job-application questionnaire was first reported by Axios.

Candidates are asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement that “the president should be able to advance his/her agenda through the bureaucracy without hinderance from unelected federal officials.”

Mr. Trump and his allies have promised to “demolish the deep state” and increase presidential power over every part of the federal government that currently operates with any degree of independence from White House political control.

Paleoconservative or Moderate? Questions for Staffing the Next G.O.P. White House.

A Questionnaire for Applicants to the Next Conservative White House

The Heritage Foundation, which has been staffing Republican administrations since the Reagan era, has a list of questions for job applicants that shows how Donald Trump has transformed the party.

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Heritage, the most powerful think tank on the right, has been staffing Republican administrations since the Reagan era and is leading a $22 million presidential transition operation called Project 2025 to develop policies and personnel for the next conservative government.

As a nonprofit group, Heritage cannot endorse political candidates, but its vast personnel recruitment project — a collaboration by more than 80 conservative groups — is being driven by former senior Trump administration officials who remain close to the former president. Heritage’s work will most likely end up in the hands of whomever the Republican Party nominates as its presidential candidate next year.

Much of the Heritage questionnaire is unremarkable. It quizzes candidates on their political philosophy and on private school vouchers and other standard-issue Republican policies. But in subtle ways, the questionnaire shows the extent to which Mr. Trump’s “America First” ideology has infused the Republican Party. Those changes are most pronounced in the wording of the questions that relate to foreign policy and trade.

(The questionnaire inquires about the applicant’s political philosophy, providing a number of possible selections such as Traditional Conservative, Libertarian, Paleoconservative and Moderate.)

Heritage used to promote American leadership around the world and a hawkish foreign policy in line with the views espoused by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

But under the leadership of its president, Kevin Roberts, Heritage has in recent years argued that American tax dollars could more usefully be spent at home than in supporting Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion. And in another departure from the pre-Trump Republican orthodoxy, Heritage has expressed openness to cutting the military budget.

In that vein, the Heritage questionnaire asks potential recruits whether they agree or disagree that “the U.S. should scale back its strong military presence overseas.”

Once a promoter of free trade — and still internally divided on the subject — Heritage now asks recruits for the next Republican administration whether they agree that “the U.S. should impose tariffs with the goal of bringing back manufacturing jobs, even if these tariffs result in higher consumer prices.”

Heritage’s shift toward an “America First” ideology has opened up rifts within the conservative movement and has caused tensions inside the organization. Several foreign policy analysts left Heritage disillusioned by the changes afoot there.

In a statement to The New York Times, Heritage’s president, Mr. Roberts, said that “the radical left has lapped the political right when it comes to preparing men and women to serve in presidential administrations.”

“Project 2025,” he added, “is committed to recruiting and training a deep bench of patriotic Americans who are ready to serve their country on day one of the next administration.”

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