John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Do Republicans Want to Win or Look Good Losing?

Posted on April 14, 2009
Do Republicans Want to Win or Just Look Good Losing?

Pat Toomey is trying to get Arlen Specter booted from the U.S. Senate, and is entertaining the fantasy that he can be his replacement. As much I have disagreed with many of the Pennsylvania Senator’s votes over the past two decades that I have been in Washington, I do appreciate his ability to win in the Keystone State.

Senator John Cornyn, the Republican in charge of getting Republicans to take back the Senate, put it bluntly when he wrote:

“As I survey the political landscape of the upcoming 2010 elections, it’s clear we need more candidates that fit their states. While I doubt Arlen could win an election in my home state of Texas, I am certain that I could not get elected in Pennsylvania. I believe that Senator Specter is our best bet to keep this Senate seat in the GOP column. A vote for Arlen Specter is a vote for denying Harry Reid and the Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate.”

“The political math for Republicans in 2010 is tough. We must defend 19 of our Senate seats — six of which are in states (such as Pennsylvania) won by President Obama. The Democrats have to defend just 17 of their 59 seats, only two of which are in states Senator McCain won. With just 41 Members in the Senate Republican Conference, it’s vital that we focus our limited resources on growing the party and beating Democrats.
The fact that Pennsylvania has become a reliable “blue state” for the Democrats isn’t the only reason they’re targeting Arlen. For example, they didn’t like it when he:
Declared recently he would vote against cloture and oppose the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as 'card check'”

“Voted against the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” (which would enable government censors to prevent local radio stations from carrying conservative talk radio)
Cast the deciding vote to defeat a bipartisan tax hike in December 2007
Led the GOP’s effort to repeal the Democrats’ increase of the Alternative Minimum Tax rates”

“Voted for the Reagan and Bush tax cuts
Sponsored the Flat Tax, the Balanced Budget Amendment and Line-Item Veto
Sponsored the Flag Protection Amendment
Voted to keep “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance
Voted for the Partial Birth Abortion Ban and Defense of Marriage Act
Sponsored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Stood up for Israel’s right to protect her citizens against terrorist attacks
Protected the individual right to bear arms enshrined in the 2nd Amendment
Sponsored the bill to deport convicted felons who are illegal aliens”

“Arlen and I do not agree on every issue, but as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), I rely on Senator Specter for advice and counsel on key issues. As a fellow member of the Judiciary Committee, I’ve seen Arlen’s strong leadership first-hand. His work shepherding through the confirmations of Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Alito was unparalleled.”

“My job as head of the NRSC is to guide the GOP back to a majority in the Senate. I can’t do that without Arlen Specter. With him as our nominee, I can target our campaign resources toward beating Democrats and growing the Senate Republican Conference. Please join me in that effort.”

This is gut-check time for the Republican Party. They can be serious about taking back the Congress, or they can look good losing. Pat Toomey may be ideologically pure, but he can’t win in Pennsylvania. If he could, John Cornyn wouldn’t be taking such a strong position for Specter (and against Toomey).

Arlen Specter can be a maddening figure to many conservatives, but he sides with the Republican leadership more often than not, and for the GOP to have any chance to take back the Senate a year from November, they need his seat to stay Republican.

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