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« Strategy Memo: Stimulating The Senate | Blog Home Page | Congressmen, Reporters Schmooze »

Republicans Pounce On Poll's Opportunity

As Senate Democrats held a retreat down Pennsylvania Avenue and House Democrats focused their attention on passing an expansion to the SCHIP legislation, House and Senate Republicans set out yesterday to build momentum against the Democrats' economic stimulus plans.

Rasmussen's release of a poll showing more Americans oppose the Democratic proposal than support it set off what seemed like a renewed sense of confidence among GOP members. The new poll numbers offered Republicans some political capital they previously haven't had, after substantial losses the last two elections.

"Clearly, the American people are watching what we're doing in Congress and waiting to see whether we're actually going to deliver a stimulus bill that preserves, protects and creates jobs," said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) at a morning press conference for House GOP leadership. "They want action, but they want a stimulus bill that actually produces results."

Cantor cited the Rasmussen poll a few times during his brief remarks, as did some of his fellow leaders. "The only thing the Democratic stimulus bill stimulates is more government and more debt," said House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.). "And the American people are catching on."

At an afternoon press conference, Republicans from the House and Senate held a rare joint press conference. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and about a dozen of their colleagues stood together in opposition to the Democratic plan currently in the Senate, as well as the bills' quick procession through a normally slow legislative process.

"Whether you agree with the substance of the bill or not, the process is really not befitting of the Congress," said Sen. Lindsey Grahm (R-S.C.). "Now we're in the Senate, the great deliberative body -- it takes longer to name a post office than it does to get this bill through."

Along with calling Senate Democrats' stimulus plan "probably the worst bill that has ever been introduced in the United States Congress," DeMint said the Republicans' principled stance against the Democrats' legislation has rubbed off on the American public.

"Their courage has been contagious -- all across America and here in the United States Senate," DeMint said of House Republicans' unanimous opposition to the bill during last week's vote. "It has galvanized opposition to this massive spending bill, and every day the support for it is declining."

Although Senate Democrats were noticeably absent from the public debate yesterday, President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued to push their side of the argument as well. Pelosi discussed the stimulus plans during her weekly press conference yesterday.

"I reject and House Democrats have rejected the same warmed over stew of bad failed economic policies of the Bush Administration that got us where we are today," Pelosi said.

President Obama sounded the same theme during morning remarks yesterday, though with noticeable disgust for the public bashing his proposal has received of late. "In the past few days I've heard criticisms of this plan that echo the very same failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems," he said. "I reject that theory, and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change."

Obama also met with moderate senators at the White House yesterday as he seeks a compromise in the Senate, where passage of the bill in its current state is unlikely. He continued his sales job this morning with an op-ed in the Washington Post.

Senate Democrats have scheduled at least two press briefings today, as they too seek to swing public approval back in Democrats' favor.