News / USA

US Republicans Move to Soften Their Image

Republicans Look to Rebuild National Imagei
X
February 19, 2014 10:42 PM
Republican Party leaders in Washington seem to be guiding the party in a less confrontational direction. As VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington, the change in tactics could reap dividends for Republicans in November’s congressional midterm elections.
After a long and difficult winter in Washington, the winds of change are blowing through the Capital, and the end result could spell trouble for Democrats in November.  Republican Party leaders seem to be guiding the party in a new direction after they got most of the blame for last October’s unpopular shutdown of the federal government.
 
In recent weeks Republican congressional leaders have somewhat neutralized Tea Party factions in both the House of Representatives and the Senate who in the past have demanded a ‘scorched earth’ approach on budget and spending issues that often led to confrontation and stalemate.  That in turn caused approval numbers for the Republican Party to plummet in national opinion polls.  To counter this, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell engineered clean passage of a debt ceiling extension in both the House and Senate that effectively bypassed conservative factions who in the past demanded spending cuts before they would agree to raising the debt ceiling.
 
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, walks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, as they make their way to a GOP strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 19, 2013.House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, walks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, as they make their way to a GOP strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 19, 2013.
x
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, walks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, as they make their way to a GOP strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 19, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, right, walks with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., left, as they make their way to a GOP strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 19, 2013.
​It’s the latest example of how Boehner and McConnell are being more aggressive in beating back Tea Party interference.  McConnell even cast what could turn out for him to be a troubling Senate vote to end debate on the debt ceiling when Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a likely Republican presidential contender two years from now, tried to block the measure.  McConnell faces a Tea Party-backed challenger in his primary this year in Kentucky and well-funded conservative groups around the country are looking for any excuse to pour money into that Kentucky race in hopes of replacing McConnell with a more conservative Republican.
 
Eyes on November
 
This more pragmatic Republican approach means steering clear of polarizing battles over the debt ceiling and endless legislative attempts to repeal Obamacare.  It’s also seen as a rebuke to the well-funded outside conservative groups who pressure Republicans in Congress to be more confrontational.  These groups have made Boehner’s job trying to lead House Republicans extremely complicated.

“Frankly I think they are misleading their followers.  I think they are pushing our members in places where they don’t want to be.  And frankly I just think that they have lost all credibility”, Boehner told reporters recently.
 
The Republican reset away from confrontation will allow the party to refocus on jobs, energy and education and keep their political salvos aimed directly at President Obama, especially the president’s health care law, which remains very unpopular in Republican congressional districts and Republican-leaning states.
 
But this new Republican reset will go only so far to please moderates.  One victim appears to be immigration reform.  House conservatives pushed back hard against Speaker Boehner when he raised the prospect of moving  ahead on reform this year, and for the moment it remains stuck in the House.  The Senate passed a comprehensive bill last year offering a path to eventual citizenship for millions of people who entered the country illegally.  But many conservatives oppose offering a path to citizenship because they fear being attacked in primaries as supporting amnesty for illegals, a non-starter in so-called Red Republican states and districts. 

As Republican Congressman Peter King of New York told CBS’ Face the Nation, “I think nationwide it is something the Republican Party should do.  But when you take it district by district, it’s hard to get a majority of Republicans to sign on to it.”
 
Democrats will try to exploit the Republican reluctance to move ahead on immigration reform, but they have bigger problems in trying to keep Senate seats in seven states that Mitt Romney won in 2012.  Republicans are favored to keep or expand their 17-seat majority in the House and need a gain of six seats to take control of the Senate.  And if President Obama’s poor approval ratings remain mired under 50 percent, Democrats will have a tall order trying to save incumbent Democratic senators in southern states like Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina where Republican candidates are eager to run on a platform of dismantling Obamacare.
 
The 2016 Factor
 
Republicans may have some success this year in tamping down the Tea Party loyalists and implementing a mid-course correction that should make the party more palatable to independent voters this November.  But how long will this last?  Once the 2014 election returns are in, the race for the White House in 2016 basically begins and any number of young and hungry Republicans will move aggressively to enter the race.  Tea Party supporters should have plenty of favorites to choose from in the 2016 primaries.  Texas Senator Cruz, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Florida Senator Marco Rubio are all considered likely contenders who will compete for Tea Party support.
 
But as we saw in the primaries in 2012, a large Republican field well populated by conservatives tends to pull the party to the right, something that hurt Mitt Romney in his general election matchup with President Obama. 

As American University political historian Allan Lichtman sees it, “The war within the Republican Party still rages.  There are even some on the far right who have taken some joy in the difficulties of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie because he was kind of the great hope of the moderates.”
 
So all the work the Republican Party does this year to position itself as more attractive to moderate and independent voters could easily come undone in the shrill debates and raucous primary battles that will take place two years from now.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs