I hope this proves prophetic

November 29, 2006 at 9:32 am

Kevin Hassett in the Washington Post:

“Now that Republicans are in the opposition, they’re going to be the most saintly budget hawks you can imagine,” said American Enterprise Institute economist Kevin A. Hassett. With the absence of power, he notes, comes the absence of accountability and blame. As Hassett put it, “being in the minority means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Let’s hope so…but already, things are looking good:

Fiscal conservatives started to agitate days after the election, when the Republican-led 109th Congress reconvened to wrap up unfinished business. At the top of the to-do list: nine remaining spending bills for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.

Few Republicans returned to Washington expecting to complete all the outstanding bills. But many wanted to pass at least a few, if only to show that the GOP wasn’t abrogating its governing duties. But several fiscal conservatives in the Senate saw an opportunity to take a stand against “earmarks,” the special projects that members from both parties had tucked inside the bills. The rebels announced their intention to block all spending bills from advancing — even one that financed veterans benefits and military housing.

“We need to examine the bills in the light of the last election, in which I think the American people were unhappy with our spending habits,” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) explained to reporters. He and his allies, including Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), want Congress to pass a “continuing resolution” to extend funding from the previous fiscal year. “We’d save the taxpayers a lot of money,” Sessions said.

After leadership loss, where to now for Pence?

November 28, 2006 at 2:16 pm

At first glance Mike Pence’s 168-27-1 loss in this month’s House leadership elections may look like a significant political setback. But a little history might be good for some perspective.

Recall that in Nov. 2002 the upstart Harold Ford challenged Nancy Pelosi for minority leader and lost by a similar margin: 177-29. By all accounts, Ford’s bid for Minority Leader was a longshot as he challenged Pelosi under similar premises as Pence challenged Boehner: giving Democrats a more conservative alternative and new direction for the party as well as a TV and media friendly face to bring them back to the majority.

Even though Ford was soundly defeated, it didn’t hurt his reputation, especially in Tennessee, as the leadership election was viewed as an Inside the Beltway vote. In fact, some argue it helped get Ford even more national exposure and made him the odds-on favorite to gain his party’s nomination for a statewide run later. Four years later he did end up mounting a very strong bid to become the first African American Senator from the South since Reconstruction and almost pulled it off.

Now Ford is out of office, but don’t be surprised when the ambitious young Democrat comes back in a big way.

Like Ford, Pence’s stock has gone nowhere but up in his home state. The Indy Star:

His loss in a House leadership race could still provide a long-term gain for U.S. Rep. Mike Pence.

The Indiana Republican didn’t come close in his bid to be House minority leader, losing to Ohio Rep. John Boehner by a 158-27 vote. But the favorable attention Pence received in his race could play well for several options in his future, including a run for statewide office for U.S. senator or governor.

Unlike Ford, Pence still has his seat in Congress from which he can continue to practice the optimistic brand of Reagan conservatism that has won him praise in many circles.

As Pence’s stock continues to rise at home in Indiana and across the country, watch for the young conservative to make a move towards a state-wide run. Over the next six years it is likely that Pence will have the option to run either for Senate or for Governor. In either race he would be extremely competitive.

Should he win statewide…you know where the talk goes from there.

$17 billion saved

November 28, 2006 at 10:55 am

If Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn succeed in their quest to stop the lame duck Congress from passing any earmarks, they will have saved taxpayers $17 billion dollars. Not bad…not bad at all. This from today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial page:

The agriculture bill, for example, includes a new $4.9 billion “emergency” handout for farmers, courtesy of North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad. Millions more would have been directed to Alaskan salmon research, Montana sheep, New York geese and animal-waste management in Kentucky. The 10 remaining Senate spending bills (and nine in the House) are estimated to contain some 12,000 earmarks. If GOP leaders couldn’t pass these bills individually, the scheme was to wrap them all into one giant “omnibus” bill whose innards no one would ever be able to inspect.

Enter the two rebel Senators, who rallied enough of their mates to block any omnibus bill containing earmarks. The result is that the GOP Senate may return next week for its final lame duck days and instead pass a “continuing resolution” that would fund the government at 2006 levels, kicking 2007 decisions over to the Democratic majority in January. By Mr. Coburn’s estimate, taxpayers would save about $17 billion if Congress takes this approach.

That prospect has the usual spenders howling that the world will soon end if they don’t get their fix. The Social Security Administration is warning that it would have to furlough “every employee”; we’ll believe that when we see it. Meanwhile, a source from Housing and Urban Development claimed that “thousands” of poor people “would end up out on the street.” Please.

DeMint off to good start as Steering Chairman

November 27, 2006 at 11:13 am

When Senator Jim DeMint was announced as the replacement for outgoing Senate Steering Committee Chairman Jeff Sessions some conservatives wondered if he would be able to live up to Sessions’ performance. While at the Senate Steering Committee — a body of Senate conservatives tasked with keeping the GOP caucus from drifting too far to the middle — Sessions won praise from conservatives for being a strong advocate of conservative principles and for being willing to stick his neck out on issues that many Republicans disagreed with him on.

Now, it looks as if Senator Jim DeMint will be doing just the same. As noted last week, DeMint teamed up with Tom Coburn to put the brakes on a raft of porked up appropriations bills despite receiving the predictable criticism from big-spending GOP colleagues on the Appropriations Committee. The Wall Street Journal today has more on that effort:

It’s been years since federal agencies have screamed this loudly about fiscal discipline being imposed on them. GOP Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have decided to take a stand against overspending by objecting to the nearly 10,000 earmarks, or member-sponsored pork projects, larded throughout the spending bills Congress is currently considering.Their obstinacy has convinced the leadership of the departing Republican Congress that they probably won’t be able to pass spending bills in next month’s short lame-duck session. Instead, they are likely to pass a stopgap “continuing resolution,” which will continue funding all programs at last year’s level until the new Democratic Congress passes its own versions of the funding bills.

Mr. Coburn says the decision not to pass earmark-stuffed catchall spending bills could save taxpayers a cool $17 billion. All 10,000 earmarks in the pending bills will expire if they aren’t passed by the end of the year. Mr. Coburn says the decision of the congressional leadership to instead go for a continuing resolution is a sign Republicans are learning some lessons from their stinging loss of Congress three weeks ago. “By either staying home or not voting Republican, many voters were sending a message that they don’t want to give the spending favor factory that Congress had become their stamp of approval,” Mr. Coburn says. “It’s time that message was heeded.”

Nonetheless, the cries of pain are mounting now that it looks as if many federal agencies will have to get by until late January or even later with the same amount of money they got last year. Of the 11 spending bills covering the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1, only those governing defense and homeland security have become law. Appropriators are beside themselves that a continuing resolution that restrains spending is on the table. Rep. Jerry Lewis, who is ending his stint as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, calls it a “catastrophe.” A spokeswoman for Mr. Lewis’s Senate counterpart, Thad Cochran, says it is “irresponsible.”

It’s not easy to go up against entrenched powerful appropriators, especially when you know you are going to get attacked with every type of distorted argument your pork- addicted opponents (who are many) can come up with.

Judging by these actions, it looks as if the Steering Committee will again be led by a strong fiscal conservative who is willing to buck the status quo.

DeMint, Coburn pull Senate plug on pork spending

November 21, 2006 at 4:58 pm

Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn deserve praise from conservatives for doggedly insisting that this Republican Congress not pass porked up spending bills in the remaining weeks before Dems take control.

Andy Roth has the details.

Heritage and conservative principles

November 21, 2006 at 11:34 am

There have been some blog postings around the internet this morning that have attacked the Heritage Foundation for being too cozy with the Administration. Below is some of the criticism.
Andrew Sullivan writes:

Wednesday night, libertarian Ryan Sager spoke to a little free-market group on the Hill called the Prosperity Caucus. Heritage often plays host to their events. But when Heritage found out that Sager was the speaker this month, the Prosperity Caucus was asked to take things elsewhere.

I don’t think many Republicans and conservatives have come out of denial yet about what was done to conservatism in Bush-Rove-DeLay years. Or perhaps the first stage of coming out of denial is anger at those who came out of it years ago.

Union Tribune editorial writer Chris Reed writes:

[I]t couldn’t be more disheartening and dismaying that the leading conservative think tank in the country, the Heritage Foundation, is blackballing — or at least keeping its distance from – conservative Bush critics. Especially after Nov. 7’s results, this is senseless. Congress is lost. Bush can’t seek a third term. There is nothing to be gained by pretending conservative ideals haven’t been ignored, jettisoned or blown up by the Republican version of LBJ…

…I noted with surprise that a San Diegan named Brian Tracy is on Heritage board. I’m going to try to get hold of him to ask whether he thinks it is healthy — either for Heritage’s reputation or the nation — for a powerhouse think tank to act as an extension of the Bush White House instead of as an autonomous institution devoted to established, unwavering ideas and principles.

Glenn Reynolds:

This does seem to me to represent the Kos-ification of the right. There’s something about losing that makes people act like . . . losers.

With all due respect to Glenn (and I do have an enormous amount of respect for him), the Heritage Foundation did not lose this year. Republicans did.

These posts warrant a response. Below, is our official response from Heritage:

Andrew Sullivan has created a new meme, since picked up by the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Chris Reed and others, that contends The Heritage Foundation is “blackballing” conservatives critical of the Bush Administration. If Heritage were to start blackballing conservatives critical of the Administration, we’d have to blackball ourselves first.

Heritage has been a strong critic of “conservatives” – no matter where they are - whenever they stray from bedrock conservative principles. Witness our steadfast opposition to the Medicare prescription drug benefit—the biggest entitlement since the Great Society. Or our denouncements of the Administration’s now-abandoned protectionism of steel. Or our vociferous and ongoing criticism of Washington’s near-complete lack of fiscal discipline.

Bloggers like Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Reed have done their readers a disservice by attacking the Heritage Foundation when the real problem is that many conservatives elected as such have not stuck to principles. A quick visit to our Web site (heritage.org) and a cursory review of the policy papers and commentary there would confirm that Heritage remains the “autonomous institution devoted to established, unwavering ideas and principles” Mr. Reed desires.

As for the specific charges of blackballing: Failure to invite a non-member to a members-only event is not an exercise in blackballing. Declining to host an event when an alternative venue is available is not blackballing. ‘Nuff said.

Battle for control of RSC brewing

November 20, 2006 at 4:34 pm

Congressional Quarterly has this disturbing bit of news:

A battle is brewing between the Republican Study Committee’s old guard and newer members over the choice of a chairman.

The four founders of the group of conservative House Republicans, known as the RSC, may nominate a leadership-aligned appropriator, Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., to succeed rabble-rousing Mike Pence, R-Ind.

Until the last chairmanship election, the word of the founders — John T. Doolittle of California, Sam Johnson of Texas, Dan Burton of Indiana, and Ernest Istook of Oklahoma — was essentially law, but Pence opened up the process by allowing for nominations from the floor when he was the founders’ nominee. None were offered.

But that is not likely to be the case if the founders put Tiahrt’s name forward, according to Republican aides.

Many in the RSC consider appropriators the enemy — big spenders betraying the party’s fiscally conservative principals.

“It’s a complete effort to neuter the RSC,” said a conservative aide…

…Having Tiahrt in the top RSC post would give House Republican leaders a measure of control over their most troublesome faction.

This could be the beginning of the end for the RSC.

There are rumblings even now that were this scenario to unfold, you would see a major splintering of the RSC. The heart and soul of the RSC are the 25-30 members who are most conservative, most active, most likely to attend meetings and most apt to buck leadership. Under Mike Pence’s leadership that core group was able to lead the majority of the majority to some major wins, most notably Operation Offset.

In my opinion, it is in this role that the RSC is most useful. Who needs a tamer, more leadership friendly, RSC? What good does that do except provide a rubber stamp for often squishy leadership tendencies? No. The RSC should function as a conservative check on leadership. As the Proverb says, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This is the job of the RSC: to sharpen Republican leadership.

If the founders hand pick a replacement for Pence that is a leadership-friendly appropriator who does not want to rock the boat, they run the risk of marginalising the influence of the RSC and splintering their once up-and-coming caucus.

Conservatism poised to flourish

November 20, 2006 at 10:36 am

Lee Edwards, the Distinguished Fellow in Conservative Thought at the Heritage Foundation, today argues that the 2006 midterm elections were a repudiation of big-government Republicans who had been spoiled by success. Conservatism, argues Edwards, was not repudiated and in fact is poised for renewal:

True conservatives in Congress are now free to follow a principled path of opposition for the good of the country. And they can call on a conservative movement that has never been stronger and more prepared for the battle of ideas. Consider these impressive assets:

Washington-based think tanks like The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute continue to provide viable solutions for the nation’s most challenging problems, from taxes to government spending to trade. The State Policy Network of some 40 state think tanks is having a similar impact on state legislatures from Maine to California.

Student organizations such as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Leadership Institute and Young America’s Foundation are educating thousands of young people each year in conservative ideas. ISI also has more than 1,000 faculty associates. The Leadership Institute expects to have 1,000 active groups on America’s campuses by the end of the year. YAF speakers attract thousands of students to their lively appearances at American colleges and universities.

Conservative talk radio, led by talkmeister Rush Limbaugh, dominates the airwaves. National Review leads a parade of conservative opinion journals that includes The Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, Human Events and the American Conservative. Cal Thomas, George Will, Robert Novak and Charles Krauthammer are the most popular newspaper columnists in America. Authors Anne Coulter and Bill O’Reilly frequent the best-seller lists.

Edwards has this hopeful conclusion:

I predict that the current debate among conservatives will lead to a renewed fusionism of the major strains — traditionalist, libertarian, neoconservative — of conservatism. It will be a fusionism based on the ideas of limited government, the free market, individual freedom and responsibility, a balance between liberty and law, a belief in a transcendent moral order, and a commitment to virtue, private and public.

These are the core beliefs, bounded by the Constitution, on which American conservatism rests and by which its most successful leaders have sought to govern.

Small band of Senators put brakes on pork spending

November 20, 2006 at 9:32 am

Robert Novak reports on a group of budget hawks who are shutting down the Senate favor factory:

While House Republicans reacted to stinging rejection from America’s voters by refusing to change leadership, their Senate counterparts have tried to use their closing weeks in power to enact a last burst of pork-barrel spending. But that effort was stalled last week by independent-minded Republican senators, spearheaded by two abrasive freshmen and one longtime hairshirt. Before Congress recessed Friday for Thanksgiving, the GOP leadership appeared to capitulate.

The freshmen, Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint, campaigning in 2004 in Oklahoma and South Carolina, promised not to fall in line with GOP leaders. Fulfilling that pledge allied them with the long-termer John McCain. They have been backed by Jeff Sessions of Alabama and another freshman, John Sununu of New Hampshire. In the lame-duck session’s first week, they played Horatio at the Bridge by combining to block a pork-filled omnibus spending bill.

Good for them. This group if they stick together will be able to do a lot of damage to the dreams on many an appropriator. It also should be pointed out that this group is largely the same as the group of seven senators who combined to form the “fiscal watch team” last year. The FWT joined forces in 2005 to echo the House Republican Study Committee’s calls for offsets for emergency Katrina funding.

Pence bows out gracefully

November 17, 2006 at 12:45 pm

From a Mike Pence press release following his loss to John Boehner in the House Minority Leader race:

“It was one of the greatest honors of my life to stand for election as Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. I am deeply humbled by the support extended to me by many both within and outside the Republican Minority in Congress.”I congratulate Minority Leader John Boehner on his election. I look forward to working with him as we steer our Republican Conference back to the principles of limited government, fiscal discipline and traditional moral values.”

Congrats to Pence, who was a class act in this race from start to finish and who, more importantly, ran a campaign emphasizing a return to bedrock conservative principles. His campaign for leader was important because it gave voice to many in the conservative movement who have watched in dismay as the Party that they have considered their home drifted away from Reagan Republicanism toward pragmatic power brokering. Now Boehner has won, but in the course of the campaign to his great credit he too has grasped the same lessons that Pence did and he too has promised to steer the Party of Reagan back to its roots.

While the final tally this morning did not show it, I suspect Pence’s star is only beginning to rise.


November 17, 2006 at 12:15 pm

Blunt beats Shadegg 137-57

November 17, 2006 at 10:40 am

Below is a statement from a Roy Blunt press release:

“For twelve years, the Democrats have gotten away without leading, without offering an agenda, and without saying what they’re actually for. Now they will be forced to govern.”Under this Republican leadership, the job of the Minority Whip will no longer be to go to the House floor every day and lose. Instead, each time we hold our team together and force the Democrats to vote like Democrats, we’ll be taking one more step toward recapturing our majority in 2008.

“One-hundred-forty-nine Democrats demonstrated yesterday that they are willing to buck Nancy Pelosi. We’ll work each day to give those Democrats a viable alternative to her liberal, San Francisco agenda.

“John Shadegg ran a good race, and I look forward to working with him in the 110th Congress to advance the reform agenda that he articulated so well throughout this campaign. As a party, we learned some hard lessons last week. But our ideas didn’t lose — we did. Today begins the rebirth of House Republicans’ common sense agenda with a leadership team that is more unified than ever, ready to regain the trust of the American people, and ready to restore faith in our ideals.

“John Boehner is a good friend, and he and I will continue working hard with all of the leaders elected today to advance an agenda aimed at limited government, personal responsibility, and economic and national security.”

What will they do?

November 17, 2006 at 8:08 am

Right now, gathered in the Canon House Office building is the entire GOP caucus. They will vote for their new leaders from top down, meaning the first vote is the biggest: Pence or Boehner.

The order of elections will be:

1) Republican Leader

2) Republican Whip

3) Chair of the Republican Conference

4) Chair of the Committee on Policy

5) Vice Chair of the Republican Conference

6) Secretary of the Republican Conference

7) Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee

Each nomination will be preceded by a nomination speech that lasts about 3 minutes before the caucus proceeds to cast secret ballots.


UPDATE: NRO’s Jonathan Martin has a user’s guide to this morning’s leadership elections.

UPDATE 9:04: Nominating speeches for Minority Leader are finished and the voting has begun.

UPDATE 9:10: Votes are being counted…Fox News’s Major Garrett predicts a Boehner landslide but a closer Whip race.

UPDATE 9:12: The House GOP conference has announced a Boehner victory.

UPDATE 9:15: Boehner is speaking to the GOP caucus right now. The first man to shake his hand after the vote was Mike Pence.

UPDATE 9:21: The final tally was 168-27 for Boehner.

UPDATE 9:26: I have to run to a previous commitment so updates will stop here for a bit. I will be sending Andy over at the Club for Growth any updates I get. Be sure to head over there as he will be covering what is going on over there in the Canon HOB.

The Corner is all over this too.

UPDATE 10:40: The election for Conference Chair is underway. They are moving to a second ballot. Lungren fell off with 29. Blackburn had 31, Kingston - 58 and Putnam - 81.

UPDATE 10:57: Blackburn is out with 30 votes. Kingston had 74 and Putnam had 89 on the last ballot. Kingston was the beneficiary of most of Lungren’s votes. They now move to the final ballot. Blackburn supporters will decide outcome.

UPDATE 11:04: Putnam wins 100-91.

UPDATE 11:21: Thad McCotter just won Policy Chair.

UPDATE 12:10: Tom Cole and Pete Sessions are headed to a second ballot for NRCC Chair. Phil English was shed on the first.

UPDATE 12:15: Cole gets it.

UPDATE: John Carter to Secretary.

Pence speech to conference

November 16, 2006 at 4:25 pm

Mike Pence, a candidate for Majority Leader gave a speech to the entire GOP conference today in which he laid out the reasons he wants to lead. During his speech he also talked about his opponent:

Let me say a word about my opponent, John Boehner.

I am not running because I think John Boehner did a bad job as Majority Leader. Quite the contrary. I think the guy deserves a medal.

John Boehner is an honorable man and John Boehner is a conservative.

He took a tough job under the worst circumstances and made the best of it and I commend him for it.

I am not running because I think I am a better man. I am running because I think I might just be the best man to lead this conference as Minority Leader.

And the role of the Minority Leader is different from Majority Leader. Each demand different skills and each have different goals.

Our goal in the Majority was to pass legislation reflecting Republican principles.

Our goal of the Republican Minority in the 110th Congress should be to defeat the liberal agenda of the Democrat Party and become the majority in Congress again.

We will only defeat the Democrat agenda by presenting a positive, conservative message in vivid contrast to the big government liberalism of the new Majority.

Read the entire speech in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

DeLay on Red State

November 16, 2006 at 3:59 pm

Tom DeLay wrote a post on the front page of Red State yesterday that got a lot of criticism from Red State readers in the comments section. Today he returns to engage with those critics and to acknowledge some of their criticisms. Well played.

49 means nothing, 41 means everything

November 16, 2006 at 3:49 pm

Soon to be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell today spoke with bloggers on a conference call. One of the first things he pointed out was the nature of the Senate. McConnell said that being in the minority in the Senate had its perks: “49 is nowhere near an irrelevant minority…much to the frustration of the majority,” said McConnell
“Being in the minoirty is not my first choice but we are not anywhere near helpless.”

McConnell sounded ready to lead the charge against what will certainly be a raft of liberal legislation offered by the Senate’s new leaders.

“My challenge will be to hold together 41 our of 49 Republicans…you can see why many people around town here think being the minority leader is easier than being the majority leader.”

McConnell will be referred to as “The Republican Leader” on the floor of the U.S. Senate rather than the “Minority Leader.” This tradition began with Harry Reid who didn’t like the sound of the word minority in his title.
McConnell’s biggest fear is that good judges get tied up in the Judiciary Committee.

He ended the call with this note: “Even though we would prefer to be in the majority it might do us some good to be in the monority for a while.” McConnell said it could “sharpen up” Republicans.

Ryun on leadership elections

November 16, 2006 at 11:14 am

Outgoing conservative Congressman Jim Ryun knows a thing or two about a conservative electorate who were in no mood to support Republicans this year. He was one of the many Republican casualties in the midterms. In this piece in National Review, Ryun argues that conservatism itself was not repudiated last week, but Republicans were. He urges his colleagues to take deliberate steps to rectify the situation and he points to tomorrow’s leadership vote as a good place to start:

On Friday, House Republicans will elect its leadership for the 110th Congress. These votes are a critical first step to ensure that the party returns to its core values. While I will not have a vote in these elections, I have spoken to many of my colleagues and have urged them to vote for leaders who will again make us the party of Reagan. We need real change and that starts with new leadership. The country once again needs Republican leaders with a demonstrated commitment to limited government, fiscal responsibility, and conservative values. We do not need leaders who simply give lip service to those principles, as too many of our leaders have done recently. I hope that my colleagues will chose wisely and in doing so that our party, the party of Lincoln and the party of Reagan will once again be able to gain the trust of the American people.

Boehner announces more commitments

November 16, 2006 at 9:41 am

John Boehner’s office has released a letter this morning from Reps. Buyer, King, McMorris and Porter announcing their support of Boehner. The letter can be read in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

Who will lead the minority to the majority?

November 16, 2006 at 8:45 am

I preview tomorrow’s GOP leadership elections for Townhall today:

On Friday morning House Republicans will hold a meeting to elect leaders who will lead them in the minority for the first time since 1994. The House leadership elections have become ground zero for an intra-party debate about the future of the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement.

Many outside groups, conservative blogs and grassroots conservatives are agitating for a return to bedrock conservative principles. The call for a back-to-basics approach has often been coupled with a call for fresh faces in GOP leadership. Among the members vying for leadership positions there are indeed some fresh faces as well as some old hands. But all have one thing in common: They are echoing outside calls for a return to the fundamentals.

Barton drops out of leadership race

November 15, 2006 at 9:34 pm

Congressman Joe Barton has dropped out of the race for GOP Minority Whip and thrown his support behind John Boehner. From Barton’s press release:

“Last week I indicated my interest in election to the House Republican leadership. I said that we have to be real Republicans again, driven by the power of the good ideas that we share with America’s working families, if we are to regain their trust.

“People want more freedom and less government. They want to keep more of what they earn. They want to be healthy, they want to be protected from snooping, and they want to believe that their Congress is honest. If we stand with America, America will stand with us.

“Those are the reasons I joined the race for Republican leader and, as I leave the race, I do so confident in John Boehner’s commitment to those goals. Because of that, I will join the majority of Republican members on Friday in voting for John to become our next leader.

“He not only has my vote, he has my confidence that he can unify the Republican Conference and bring us back to the majority by exercising the power of good ideas and great determination.”

Red State suggests some behind the scenes threats were made to force Barton out. If that is true, it is truly unfortunate to say the least.

Ugh…I have the feeling this could get ugly in the next 24 hours. I hope I am wrong.

UPDATE: Erick over at Red State reports that Barton’s staff says there were no threats made contrary to the initial report.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Barton’s exit from the race makes the challenge for Team Pence that much bigger.

Shadegg, Blunt on CNN

November 15, 2006 at 6:46 pm

I really like Shadegg’s platform for this leadership race, and I understand why he refuses to endorse either Boehner or Pence in this interview. But I wish he would just endorse. As Blitzer points out, he is going to have to vote for one of them. Otherwise, its a good interview.

Also, be sure to see Roy Blunt’s interview on the same show yesterday here.

Gingrich memo to House Republicans

November 15, 2006 at 2:00 pm

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has penned an open memo to House Republicans. At a Republican conference meeting this morning on the hill, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas distributed this memo to his colleagues and discussed the contents. The memo stressed points such as:

– Are House Republicans electing a leadership team to be an effective minority or a leadership team to regain the majority? These are very different roles and require very different considerations, very different strategies and very different leaders.

– To regain majority status, we have to focus on the country first and on Washington and the Congress second. If we are responsive to the country, they will support us and return us to power. If we are focused on action in Washington (whether White House action, legislative action or lobbyist and PAC action), we are probably entering a long period in minority status.

– Are House Republicans electing leaders to represent House Republican values and strategies to the White House or leaders to represent the White House to House Republicans? Over the next two years, House Republicans and the White House will have very different institutional interests and very different time horizons. If we want to regain majority status, we have to focus on the building of a grassroots coalition which supports real change in Washington.

Read the entire memo in the extended section. Read the rest of this entry »

Backing moderate Dems into a corner

November 15, 2006 at 1:51 pm

Jonathan Martin over at the Corner reports that Roy Blunt, in an effort to get ahead in the red-hot Whip race against John Shadegg, has released to NRO a document detailing his strategy should he be elected Minority Whip:

House Whip Roy Blunt wants to keep his job in the minority and he’s telling his colleagues exactly what he’ll do to ensure that they don’t stay in the minority for long.  In a nine-page memo that will be sent to his fellow Republicans later today, and obtained exclusively by NRO, Blunt writes that, “We must force the Democrats to be Democrats,” and hang together as a caucus so “their team feels the pain.”

And just what pain is the former Baptist college president talking about inflicting?

The kind that comes in forcing House Democrats from moderate and conservative districts to either support the “San Francisco agenda” of their new Speaker, and “show who they really are,” or to “vote with us.”

“Either way, we win,” Blunt writes.

I like the strategy and I hope that whoever Republicans elect on Friday employs similar tactics. Moderate Dems who prop up a super-liberal Pelosi governing platform should certainly be held to account.

Read the rest of Martin’s post here.

Straight from the candidates

November 15, 2006 at 11:08 am

The Hill this morning publishes Op-Eds from all the candidates for House leadership. Here are snippets, follow this link for the full slate of Op-Eds:

Mike Pence:

I am running for Republican leader, because I believe that Republicans did not just lose our majority on Election Day 2006 — we lost our way. We are in the wilderness because we walked away from the limited-government principles that minted the Republican Congress. But there is a way out. “The way out of the wilderness,” author Mark Helprin wrote, “is the truth; recognizing it, stating it, defending it, living by it.” Here is the truth as I see it.

Joe Barton:

I am running because I believe that ideas make a difference, and because when the Republican agenda matches America’s agenda of less government and more freedom, our party prospers.

Once we were on the verge of becoming a permanent majority, and now we are not, but it’s still up to us to stand up for the tax cuts, balanced budget and privacy protection that Americans expect. We should take this reversal of fortune for what it is, an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the things that America believes in.

John Boehner:

I’ll be the first to admit it: The Republican Party took a beating this election cycle. However, the initial news accounts and analysis of this election got it all wrong.

By and large the pundits have portrayed this as a “repudiation” or “rejection” of Republican and conservative principles. On the contrary, this election reflected the American public’s thirst for the very tenets that brought Republicans to the majority for the first time in 40 years.

Roy Blunt:

In politics there are no permanent victories, just as there are no permanent defeats. I am committed to making sure the Democrats’ victory this past Tuesday is as short as possible. But victory will not fall in our lap in two years. It will take a lot of hard work on the part of each and every member of the Republican Conference, but we are up to the task.

John Shadegg:

The election was not a mandate for a Democrat agenda so much as a repudiation of the way Washington has conducted itself — too much corruption, including the appearance of plush lifestyles and excessive coziness with lobbyists, the appearance of self-dealing, too many earmarks, and too much spending. It is critical that we listen to the voters and heed their call for change. We must learn from the past so we can look to the future with confidence and optimism.