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Friday, April 15, 2005

2006 Senate Races: GOP Losing on "Nuclear Option"

Posted by Bob Brigham

From The Hill:

GOP fears it's losing Frist v. Reid Senate Republican leaders were due to meet last night amid rising concern that they are being beaten on the “nuclear option” by Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) public-relations war room.

The GOP’s talks follow a meeting last week in which aides warned Bob Stevenson, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) communications director, that something needs to be done to win back lost ground, a participant said.

“I think there’s a realization that this particular [Democratic] effort has to be countered and they’re in full-scale attack mode,” a GOP aide said, adding, “I think that people know that we’ve got a serious problem here."

Reid's War Room is working...

The team is headed by Jim Manley, whom Reid hired in December from the office of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). Stephanie Cutter, who was campaign spokeswoman for Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign, joined Reid’s team last week to coordinate outside liberal groups and Senate Democratic policy and communications staff in the fight over the nuclear option. Reid’s war room currently employs eight staff members and is part of a nearly 20-person communications team.

Now it is one thing for Democrats to have a War Room to preserve the Constitution and the filibuster, but it is a far different thing if the GOP sets up a War Room to push their agenda of absolute power:

He did not say whether Republicans would establish their own such team, noting that “having a war room inside the Capitol is unprecedented.” Nevertheless, he indicated that more aides would be drafted to the fight over the nuclear option.

For people keeping score, Democrats are winning and this is going to be a huge issue in the 2006 Midterm Elections:

Another GOP aide said: “There’s a general sense in the rank and file that we are a little in the hole and that Democrats have been more aggressive on messaging, that we’ve kind of gone dark. Democrats have gotten a head start and defined the issue ahead of us.”

At a closed-door luncheon Tuesday, members of the Democratic caucus were presented a stack of more than 260 press editorials from 41 states and the District of Columbia arguing against changing Senate rules to prohibit judicial filibusters. That’s quite a change from a year and a half ago, when many editorial boards criticized Democrats for blocking confirmation votes on President Bush’s judicial nominees. [...]

“They turned it around,” the aide said, and “one can suggest that it’s because of our lack of organized countermessaging.”

A few GOP senators said that when they returned to their states they heard more talk from their constituents about the nuclear option than Social Security.

Posted at 11:23 AM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Nuclear Option | Technorati