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McCarthy, GOP Leaders, Lay Out Argument for Voting Republican in November

September 23, 2022 by Dan McCue
McCarthy, GOP Leaders, Lay Out Argument for Voting Republican in November
House Republican Leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in a screen grab from the GOP's glossy new spot rolling out its "Commitment to America" agenda.

MONONGAHELA, Pa. — House Republican leaders traveled to this small town just south of Pittsburgh on Friday to roll out the GOP agenda they hope will chip away at a surge in momentum Democrats have enjoyed in recent weeks and spell victory for their party in November.

The day of appearances, which began with breakfast in a local diner on Fox News Friday morning, was centered around the release of a formal party agenda called “Commitment to America,” an agenda that calls for curbing illegal immigration, attacking inflation, boosting fossil fuel production, “safeguarding” religious freedom and combating crime.

In a sense, it’s a recalibration of a party that hasn’t had a formal platform since former President Donald Trump rejected having one just before the 2016 election.

In fact, many within the party were already saying Friday that they believe its “Commitment to America” is the blueprint for securing a Republican majority in the House six weeks from now — comparing it to the party’s 1994 “Contract with America.”

In fact, there are some similarities: Released just six weeks before the first midterm election of a sitting Democrat’s administration, the contract sought to cast longstanding Republican ideas in a new light.

Written by Newt Gingrich, then chairman of the House Republican Conference, and Dick Armey, the House Republican Conference leader, the contract mixed nearly equal amounts of former President Ronald Reagan’s 1985 State of the Union address and policy ideas put forth by The Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank.

In the end, the contract proved an incredibly effective inducement for American voters, who threw their support behind the Republicans, enabling the party to gain 54 seats in the House and nine in the U.S. Senate, flipping both chambers.

But even before House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., began making their pitch to locals in Western Pennsylvania and voters coast-to-coast via television and radio,  Democrats were in full-on attack mode, calling the GOP’s ideas dated and dangerous.

In an email blast penned by Jennifer Klein, director of the Gender Policy Council, and sent to news organizations Friday morning, the Democrats reminded anyone who would listen that it was a Republican-backed majority on the high court that overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.

It also noted that just last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced a national abortion ban that would criminalize the provision of abortion services after 15 weeks with negligable exceptions.

“It imposes a criminal penalty on providers who provide abortion care to their patients in violation of the proposed law, including imprisonment for up to five years and/or monetary fines,” the White House memo continued. “The bill also leaves in place extreme state abortion bans, including those that begin at fertilization or do not have exceptions for rape or incest. 

“The federal bill itself does not include an exception for the health of the mother — meaning that a woman with a serious condition that would threaten her health would not be able to obtain care after 15 weeks,” the memo said, adding, “Finally, it imposes onerous burdens on rape and incest survivors in order for them to access care.”

To hammer the point home further, the White House also on Friday distributed a copy of a letter from Maureen Phipps, chief executive officer of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which accused the Supreme Court of creating a “growing crisis” for women seeking reproductive health care and slammed the Graham bill as “extreme federal legislation” that is “not grounded in science and medical evidence and would dramatically interfere with the ability of patients to receive timely medical care, including prenatal care, miscarriage management, and abortion care.”

But Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the campaign chair for the House Republicans, suggested to reporters on Thursday that the Democrats are overplaying their hand when it comes to the abortion issue.

“This election is about kitchen table issues,” he said, pointing to inflation, among other things. 

“Those are the issues we need to address and we need to stay focused on,” he said.

McCarthy, incidentally, takes that message to heart in the rollout ad for the “Commitment to America,” which he posted on Twitter Thursday morning.

Standing in the supermarket, the Republican leader appears sans jacket and tie, walking with his back to the chips and soda aisles.

“When you and your family go shopping, you probably ask yourself, can we afford this?” he says.

“Now more than ever, Americans are struggling just to get by … wondering if they can even make it,” he continues. 

“You know what’s even worse, the country’s struggle goes beyond just the grocery store. Violent crime is at record highs in our streets and neighborhoods. The border has become a national security crisis, with fentanyl killing our fellow citizens, soaring inflation has shrunk paychecks, and sending us into a recession,” he says.

“The White House and the Democratic majority in Congress control Washington, they’re in charge. This is their record. And yet, they want you to give them two more years of power,” he adds.

“Republicans,” McCarthy says, “have a plan for a new direction.”

It’s a plan, he says, to create a strong economy where “you can feed your family and fill your tank … where communities are protected by the police and criminals are prosecuted … a future that’s built on freedom, where your children come first and are taught to dream big. 

“We simply cannot afford two more years of business as usual. In Washington,” McCarthy says, “we need common sense change now. If you agree, join us and tens of millions more across this great country. Because people like you who work hard and play by the rules deserve better.”

With its launch, the plan is for Republican leaders and their candidates to focus on a single message drawn from the agenda each week, hammering home single talking points voters can easily understand.

For example, in a tweet constituting a soft rollout for the “Commitment to America” on Thursday, McCarthy said the party is fighting for “an economy that’s strong, a nation that’s safe, a future that’s built on freedom, and a government that’s accountable.”

Any one of those could be a talking point in the weeks ahead.

In a separate tweet, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both praised the plan, saying it “will bring the people’s priorities back into the people’s House,” and offered other potential themes, including, “Less inflation. More law and order. Parent’s rights. Border security. American energy.”

“Imagine,” McConnell wrote, “a House that actually fights for American families instead of making their lives harder.”

Also offering his endorsement of the plan was Newt Gingrich himself, who offered in some ways the new “Commitment to America” is better than his “Contract for America.”

“It’s more sophisticated,” he said.

Asked what advice he’d given Republicans in a lengthy talk that preceded a conference meeting, Gingrich said it will be important for candidates to continue to talk about the agenda and to do so every chance they get.

“You have to talk about it until you can’t stand it, and about that point, the voters are starting to know what’s going on,” he told reporters Thursday.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and @DanMcCue

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