Cantor Urges Colleagues to Up Pressure on Blue Dogs

Posted August 10, 2009 at 2:57pm

Updated: 4:19 p.m.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) encouraged his whip team Monday to continue to go after Blue Dog Democrats on health care reform to try to make it harder for them to vote with their leadership in September.

In an e-mail to his whip team, Cantor lists the names of each of the Blue Dog members with corresponding links detailing how the health care reform measure would affect their constituents. The e-mail suggested whip team members share the “impact of a government takeover on their districts and constituents.—

Monday’s e-mail is part of a series of recess tips Cantor sends out each week to his whip team.

“Dozens of Blue Dog Democrats have voiced serious concerns about a government takeover of health care to Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Chairman [Henry] Waxman (D-Calif.),— said Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring. “The fact sheets on republicanwhip.house.gov show the real consequences that the president’s radical plan would have on seniors, families, and workers in these districts.—

A spokeswoman for the Blue Dogs could not be reached for comment.

But Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said: “Congressional Republicans and the insurance industry have used lies and scare tactics to launch a full-scale attack on the truth to kill health insurance reform. It has been 54 days since Republicans guaranteed a bill, but instead of keeping their word, all Republicans offer is false information, dangerous lies, and protection of the status quo.—

The fiscally conservative Blue Dogs have been at the center of the House debate on health care. Before the recess, four Blue Dogs struck a last-minute deal with the White House and Democratic leaders to clear a health care package through the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Cantor’s e-mail also included a “best practice— tip about how to manage rowdy town halls.

“Listen. Americans are upset with the Democratic Agenda coming out of Washington, and rightly so,— it said. “If you encounter energetic crowds, make sure to listen to what they’re saying; and listen for as long as they wish to speak.—

Democrats have accused Republicans of encouraging recent disruptions at town-hall meetings across the country.

Cantor’s e-mail warned whip team members that Democrats might seek to retaliate and cited anonymous callers from the Democratic National Committee who last week called Member offices to solicit information like office hours and addresses.

“Democrats appear to be creating a database of the information gained in order to distribute it to their own activists,— the email said.

Brad Woodhouse, a spokesman for the DNC, has denied Democrats are planning their own protests and said that the calls are a standard practice to help activists meet with lawmakers.

“We are calling all 100 [Senate] offices because we routinely help our activists set up meetings. We don’t have any protests planned, but it sounds like the Republicans are awfully jumpy,— Woodhouse told Roll Call in an interview last week, adding that calls to House Republicans’ offices were likely, as well.