Deom THE HILL:
Republicans in Washington are offering up some of the strongest language yet in their efforts to distinguish themselves from the 5-month-old Obama administration’s economic policies.
Last week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said Obama’s handling of the faltering U.S. auto industry is “almost like looking at Putin’s Russia.”
That came as Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) was drawing heat from Democrats for saying that he told Chinese leaders that “the budget numbers that the U.S. has put forward should not be believed” and that Congress would spend more than what is contained in the budget.
(l to r: Newt Gingrich, Eric Cantor, Mark Kirk, Chris Smith, Pete Sessions, Michele Bachmann top: Dick Cheney)
Just days before, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said at a fundraising dinner for House and Senate Republicans that Obama’s efforts to stimulate the economy and save automakers have “already failed.”
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said after Cantor’s comments this week that the approach is alienating even members of the Republican Party.
A USA Today/Gallup poll last week showed 38 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents viewed the GOP unfavorably.
For their part, Republicans are mostly unapologetic. The rhetoric is part of a continued effort to portray the Obama administration as something of an inept “Big Brother,” unable to deal appropriately with the challenges created by the economy and, all the while, expanding government.
Democrats point to comments made by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) in recent months which said Obama was well on his way to becoming the “abortion president.”
And then there are the usual suspects – Gingrich, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and, increasingly, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
Gingrich has also caused a stir in recent weeks by labeling Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a “racist,” because she said that experiencing life as a Hispanic woman might make her a better judge than a white man. Gingrich later backed off that assertion.
Bachmann’s well-publicized statements have led to the creation of a section on the DCCC’s website devoted solely to her.
And Sessions has drawn some heat for saying to the New York Times last month that the Obama administration deliberately sought to “diminish employment and diminish stock prices” in order to “divide and conquer” in Washington. Prior to that, Sessions suggested Republicans could take lessons about “insurgency” from the Taliban.
Democrats have labeled Republicans the “party of no” and said they are rooting for Obama to fail, as conservative talker Rush Limbaugh has openly advocated.
But Republicans say it’s not about rooting for failure, but rather keeping Democrats honest in their efforts to expand government.