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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Republicans on a morning panel on Day Two of the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting celebrated the party’s victories in 2010 but cautioned listeners not to get arrogant.
“The cheer of the crowd can be extremely, extremely, extremely seductive, and we have to pinch ourselves from time to time,” said former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, the panel moderator.
Watts was elected in 1994 when Republicans took control of the House and the Senate, and he said circumstances were similar then.
Like other panelists, though, he said the party had gotten away from its core values. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who defeated longtime Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton in western Missouri in November, promoted the values of the tea party during the panel.
“We need to respect them as the patriots they are,” she said. “I appreciate them because they are returning and being a voice for the core principles that our country needs, and frankly our party got away from them.”
The Congresswoman told Roll Call afterward that she hasn’t yet joined the House Tea Party Caucus. She said she has received invitations to a number of caucuses and is sorting out which ones she’ll join, but she said she isn’t aware of an invitation to join the Tea Party Caucus, started by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).
Hartzler, a former state Representative, said she got back into politics during the 2010 cycle because President Barack Obama’s administration was “ruining the country,” and she felt that having Skelton represent a conservative district meant their vote was squandered.
“I believe that if good people don’t get involved, that we are left with people on the ballot that don’t share our views and values,” she said.
Hartzler also took the opportunity to recommend listeners buy her book, “Running God’s Way: Step by Step to a Successful Political Campaign.” She said she sees her job as a public ministry and encourages people of faith to get involved. Hartzler was the only Member of Congress scheduled to speak at the winter meeting.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) held a reception for RNC members Wednesday. Freshman Rep. Mike Pompeo (Kan.) is the only Member of Congress who is also a member of the RNC.
Jim Martin, chairman of the 60 Plus Association; Miriam Hellreich, national committeewoman from Hawaii; and Norm Semanko, new general counsel of the RNC, also participated in the panel.
About 50 people were in the audience. The RNC meeting lasts from Wednesday through Saturday. The highlight of the meeting is the vote for a new chairman and other officers Friday.