[He] he admits to reading -- and rereading -- "The Thumpin', " a book that recounts how Emanuel, as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, helped the party prevail in the 2006 elections.
"I'm looking for ideas," said McCarthy, who credits Emanuel with finding the right candidates to run in key races four years ago. "It doesn't have to be from one party or the other."
He is also adapting an idea from 1994.
Now party leaders have assigned McCarthy another key role: framing the House GOP's agenda for the fall. Republican strategists privately say they will take an 80 percent/20 percent approach to the campaign season, spending the majority of their time attacking congressional Democrats and President Obama. But McCarthy will help craft the message that Republicans will deliver to voters about what they will do if they actually win control of the House. He has dubbed the project the "Commitment to America," echoing the 1994 "Contract With America" that many Republican candidates used as a basis for their campaigns.
While not criticizing the original Contract, McCarthy says he wants the current document to emerge from the party's grass roots rather than be written by party leaders in Washington. In an effort likely to start this summer, Republicans will use the Internet and other forums to engage in a listening tour, allowing the public, particularly conservatives, to offer input on the GOP's agenda.