Boehner Paints Positive Picture for Republicans

Posted April 30, 2008 at 6:45pm

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) laid out the case to his colleagues Wednesday morning for how the GOP can gain seats in the November elections despite a playing field and political atmosphere that is tilted heavily toward Democrats.

Boehner received a standing ovation after completing his PowerPoint presentation on “Why We Can Win” at the GOP’s weekly Conference meeting.

Boehner’s presentation acknowledged that picking up enough seats to retake the House majority is an uphill battle, but he argued that Republicans enjoy some structural advantages and that GOP candidates downballot will benefit from Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the party’s presumptive presidential nominee.

He touted McCain’s strong appeal to independents and moderate Democrats, and argued that the Senator can swing two Democratic-held seats to the GOP column in Arizona alone.

Boehner also stressed that despite having to defend 29 GOP-held seats because of retirements or resignations, Republicans are largely fighting on their own turf. He pointed to the fact that 21 Democratic freshmen in the House hold districts carried by President Bush in 2004 and that Republican incumbents are battle-tested and know how to win.

“We’re fighting this battle on ground that we’ve had,” Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters after the Conference meeting, adding that the presidential dynamic this year is better than any recent presidential election in terms of “its potential to impact what’s happening on the rest of the ticket.”

Boehner also said that the protracted fight for the Democratic presidential nomination between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) will hurt Democrats in the long run and that Obama, viewed as the frontrunner, will be an asset to Republicans.

“By November, it will be clear that Obama’s appeal is limited to arugula-eating college professors, hard-core liberal Democrats and the residents of Nancy Pelosi’s Congressional District,” according to Boehner’s presentation.

Democrats argue that while Congress’ approval rating is at its lowest point since the fall of 1994 –– a point that Boehner’s presentation made –– Republicans are glossing over the fact that polls have shown Democrats are still viewed more favorably than their GOP counterparts by a sizable margin.

A spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Republicans still need to offer an agenda and a message to voters, something that Republican leaders have said is in the works.

“House Republicans are doing what they do best –– complain without offering any ideas, agenda or message,” DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said. “Despite Boehner’s rosy outlook, Democrats are still seen as the party of change and appeal overwhelmingly to independents. And, with a 30 percent approval rating, we hope President Bush campaigns in all our targeted districts.”

In his presentation, Boehner said Bush will be an asset for Republican candidates, adding that the president has already raised more than $96 million for Republicans and more than $16 million for the House GOP.

Although House Republicans face a significant financial disadvantage, Boehner noted that the GOP was outspent in 1994, 2000 and 2004, all years in which Republicans picked up seats in Congress.

What he didn’t mention was that in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 the National Republican Congressional Committee outspent the DCCC, an advantage the GOP will not enjoy this cycle.

He implored his colleagues to do their part in the effort to regain the majority by paying their dues to the NRCC, meeting their fundraising goals for the annual President’s Dinner and participating in other state and national fundraising programs.

Boehner told his peers that he will do all he can to help beat Democrats, including fundraising and traveling on behalf of GOP candidates and Members. He also said he will hold House Republicans accountable for doing their part to help the team.

Also on Wednesday, NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) announced that Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas) will be the chairman of the President’s Dinner on June 18 at the Washington Convention Center. Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas) will serve as vice chairman of the event, a joint fundraiser for the NRCC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee that aims to raise $7 million. Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah) is the Senate chairman.