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Republicans are debating whether the party’s messaging or more fundamental policy changes are needed on such matters as entitlement spending, immigration and gay marriage. Muzin is focused more on the message.
“Our job in the Republican Conference is to tell people to stop talking about rape,” Muzin quips, referring to candidates in last November’s election who advocated against abortion even in cases of rape and incest. “We have to figure out who our best communicators are and get them on TV instead of people we don’t want to represent us.”
If anyone can pull this off, it’s Muzin, says Noah Silverman, the congressional affairs director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
“He’s someone who has a natural ability to think in terms of questions that might be on the minds of non-traditional Republican constituencies,” Silverman said.
Political rivals credit Muzin with a smooth, soft pitch.
“We don’t agree on policy at all, but he’s a mensch,” says Tom Kahn, the top Democratic staffer on the House Budget Committee. “He is able to hold strong views and to disagree strongly, but to do it in a very agreeable way.”
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the director of American Friends of Lubavitch who has known Muzin since his Washington days, says his biography is an example for community outreach.
“It’s pretty obvious that Nick could have done practically anything he wanted in terms of his education opportunity and background,” Shemtov said.
Stuart Feldman, a family friend who was part of the Charleston Talmud class and became a Muzin confidant, says that’s the key to Muzin’s leadership.
“He never makes anyone feel slighted,” Feldman said.