Mitt Romney chose as House liaison current GOP Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a move likely to boost her bid to be Conference chairwoman.
McMorris Rodgers has emerged as a top surrogate on women’s issues as Democrats have ramped up attacks on the GOP over a contraceptive mandate issued by the Obama administration, disagreements over provisions of the Violence Against Women Act and a proposal by House Democrats to strengthen regulations against pay discrimination of women.
McMorris Rodgers has pushed back, mocking Democrats’ charge of a Republican “war on women” as a “war on reality” and defending GOP policies in press conferences and television interviews.
“She understands the impact of the economic challenges Americans face and the need to put our country on a better track,” Romney said in a statement.
Erin Matson, the action vice president of the National Organization for Women, offered partial praise for the pick, saying that as a feminist, she seeks women in 50 percent of leadership positions in both parties. But Matson ripped Romney’s policies on women’s issues, showing the pick would go only so far with the group.
Some Republicans say that while Romney’s announcement helps solidify McMorris Rodgers’ role as the public face of the House GOP on women’s issues, the pick is less likely to transform her rank in the pecking order of the GOP leadership team overnight.
“It’s nice recognition and helpful to her and Boston,” a Republican Member said, adding that McMorris Rodgers is unlikely to play a significantly larger role in decisions that are often made above her pay grade.
The Republican Member said Chaffetz will maintain his position as a key Romney ally. “Relationships still matter,” the source said. The Romney spokeswoman said Chaffetz is “an invaluable member of the team.”
Still, the backing of the party’s presidential nominee for a prominent role is a major boon to McMorris Rodgers and will aid her as she seeks a promotion in the next Congress.
A second GOP aide went so far as to call it “pretty much a done deal” that McMorris Rodgers would be elected Conference chairwoman. The source said top members of leadership had offered kind words to her since she told Roll Call in April she would likely be seeking the post.
However, a third Republican aide said Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the GOP Policy Committee, is likely to make a bid for the post as well. The Georgian, a former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, could gain support of the Conference’s right flank, the aide predicted, while McMorris Rodgers would get the strong backing of leadership.