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GOP ‘Stop Them’ Theme Emerges

Republicans are also exploring a number of other potential proposals for counteracting the growth of government, aides said. For instance, Republicans are considering a plan to conduct a top-down review of recent regulations and spending initiatives to target administration actions that they claim are curbing job growth. Putting together specific proposals for post-election efforts are key “so there’s an example of where a Republican can say, ‘Here, I have an idea’” while still critiquing Democrats, a Senate GOP aide said.

But the difficulty Sessions and Cornyn had discussing how the GOP would govern underscored the dangers of being too specific. Offering specific legislative proposals is particularly dangerous for Republicans in midterm elections since “it makes it about us and not about them,” a GOP operative said. And Republicans want the elections to be referendums on “them” ­— President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress.

According to the operative, national Republicans understand that there is a limit to the help they can give to candidates this late in the election cycle. As a result, several Republicans said, they will try to keep as much of the focus as possible on their broader argument that a strong GOP is needed to control the Democrats.

After the election, “the president is still going to be the president, and he is still going to set the agenda,” a Senate GOP leadership aide said. The GOP will make the case that its candidates are “a check and balance to his government ... [by] laying out themes that can be practically implemented by a beefed-up Republican caucus or majority,” the aide said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a preview of this messaging effort earlier this month during a speech to a group of young Republicans. “What Republicans are offering the American people is a pledge, a pledge to do everything in our power to restore government to a size and scope that leads to some semblance of competency,” the Kentucky Republican said.

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