House GOP returns to the state Cheney fell in — in better spirits this time


“[She] just left on Trump,” Hudson, who serves as the GOP conference secretary, said in an interview Thursday. “And that was Drew Ferguson, Mike Johnson and I standing behind her. Shall we leave the stage? Duck? What the fuck?”

Almost a year ago, Cheney’s relationship with most of his party imploded on camera at another sunny vacation spot. This time around, House Republicans have decamped to a resort town, aiming for an overhaul in an annual rally typically focused on unity — a much simpler goal as the GOP’s chances of retaking the chamber appear to be rising by the day.

“It looks different,” Hudson said. “Everyone is in a good mood.”

As the GOP happily watches this November election, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is working hard to make sure this year’s retreat doesn’t look like last year’s insider rift centered on Cheney (R-Wyo.) and his critics of Trump.

McCarthy and his leadership team sought to turn the three-day rally into something of a brainstorming session for the ruling powers that are now within reach of the House GOP. Republican leaders have established about a half-dozen political “task forces” that members say energized the famously turbulent conference around a common goal that goes beyond attacks on Democrats.

In many ways, the party is in a radically different place than a year ago, when McCarthy swore his party was more unified than ever in the wake of the Capitol uprising and Cheney ended up undermine that message whenever the topic came up. The fallout from his ousting plagued the party for months, and it was far from the GOP’s only road accident in the past year.

Some incendiary members of the House Freedom Caucus, like the freshman rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, rallied MAGA supporters to attack members of their own party over the votes Trump opposed.

Now, months away from their chance to topple the ruling Democrats, House Republicans are optimistic about their ability to unite the two ideological sides of the party – seeking to exert their firepower on Biden, rather than one. on the other.

“The difference between now and a year ago is that Liz Cheney has distracted from the concerted focus on winning back the majority,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who leads the Republican Study Committee.

“Now that she’s out of the leadership picture…we’re as a more unified and focused party,” continued Banks, who said he’s never seen so many members show up for participate in political sessions.

Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler offered his own perspective.

“I’m sure it’s more comfortable for the GOP leadership without Liz telling the truth about Trump and the anti-Semitic, white supremacist, and pro-Putin members of the Conference,” Adler said in a statement for this story, referring to the Russian leader. Vladimir Poutine.

Days before this year’s retirement, McCarthy sought to dismiss the idea of ​​another high-profile crack. When asked last week how this year’s trip to Florida would compare to the previous year’s, McCarthy replied, “I won’t see any fallout.”

And Republicans are increasingly jubilant about their prospects in November, even as GOP leaders warn them not to be complacent. representing Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chairman of the House GOP campaign arm, went so far as to hand out T-shirts that read “No Mercy.” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise walked around Thursday in his own shirt that read “Take Home” on the sleeve.

Several GOP members say it’s not a question of whether they regain a majority, but a question of how many seats they will win. In a closed session on Wednesday, Emmer stressed that with Election Day seven months away, the conference needed to keep the pressure on Democrats, according to a Republican aide familiar with his remarks.

But even he couldn’t help but theorize the number of seats on the table.

If Republicans win 18 seats, Emmer said, they would have a larger majority than they won after the 1994 election, which some party members still consider the “Gingrich revolution.” If they take 30 seats, they would surpass the wave of 2010. He also raised the possibility of winning 35 seats, which would create the biggest majority in nearly 100 years.

Still, Republican leaders had to repeatedly remind their conference to stay focused after a year of various avoidable scandals. These included two GOP members attending a white nationalist rally, plotting inside the party to oust members of key committees in votes on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the push to remove Cheney from the GOP conference altogether.

In the meantime, the GOP leadership seems content to remain silent on these tensions.

And longtime Republicans would rather focus on another way the conference has changed in recent years — including a more high-profile focus on the conference’s increasingly diverse ranks.

For example, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (RN.Y.) held what it called the group’s first-ever bilingual press conference focused on engaging Hispanic voters. It included new members, like Florida Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar and Carlos Gimenezas well as high-ranking lawmakers like Rep. Mario Diaz-Balartwho talked about the inroads the GOP has made in Hispanic communities.

It’s part of the GOP’s new policy focus on building a brand in traditionally Democratic circles — battleground districts in critical states like Florida and Texas, for example — which they say could cement their mid-term victory in November.

“One thing I will say to the American public: maybe you haven’t watched the Republican Party in the past two years. We want you to watch us again,” McCarthy told reporters during his press conference. opening Wednesday.

But even though Republicans left Cheney last year, they still face the same question that triggered his ouster: Is Trump the leader of the Republican Party?

Publicly, most House Republicans will answer in the affirmative. But privately, some believe his influence is waning as candidates he endorsed in the GOP primaries begin to fall behind, challenging his allies’ claim that he remains the party’s self-proclaimed kingmaker. Republicans are watching — and sometimes cringing — as they watch Trump roll out endorsements of candidates who they believe lack the ability to win or who would bring unrest to their ranks.

When Trump withdrew his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) In the race for that state’s Senate, Trump blamed Brooks’ pleas to the former president that it was time to push past claims the election was stolen. Some House Republicans have a different theory — that Trump was bothered by his candidate’s lag in the polls.

“I think his endorsement is still very useful in most seats, but it’s not what it was without him on social media anymore,” said a GOP member, who spoke on condition of anonymity. frankly. “It’s not as powerful as it used to be.”

It’s not just Trump’s endorsement that appears to have waned – his influence on politics may be waning as well.

‘We’re not just happy to see him president,’ Freedom Caucus member says Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), who noted that Trump still has influence on some issues. “So there aren’t as many extremely inextricably tied ties to the legislative agenda.”


Politico

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