House Republicans, after failing to win recent elections by attacking Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are vowing to concentrate more on policy and less on personalities this time around.
The tactical shift is significant because it represents a departure from recent years when the GOP sought to highlight the San Francisco Democrat as a leading reason voters should elect Republicans. The strategy didn’t work in the 2006 and 2008 elections and also fell flat in the special-election race to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).Former Rep. and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) said, “They try to demonize Speakers, but it takes a lot [for it to be effective.] They tried that in Pennsylvania, but they have to translate the national trends into local races and they can do a better job of that.”
Chief Deputy Minority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), who heads the GOP agenda project “America Speaking Out,” said it would be tough to re-create the enthusiasm of August since the passion created by the health care reform debate has cooled.
“It’s tough because the last August had the [health care reform bill] hanging before it so there was something out there, something to fight,” McCarthy said, adding that one 2009 town hall in his district attracted 3,000 people. “I think last year was critical because that’s what really spurred the town halls and the debate.”
“This time you not only have to go back and talk about the lack of [action] here, but how can we make it better? How can we change it?” he said.
McCarthy said this recess would mark a second phase of America Speaking Out.
He explained that Members will be encouraged to use town hall meetings to present to their constituents solutions House Republicans have gathered from AmericaSpeakingOut.com instead of simply accumulating more ideas or complaints about the country’s problems