Updated at 1:21 p.m. on November 9.
A key Republican House leader told a chamber of commerce audience in his district last week that former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin undermined the GOP’s chance to take control of the U.S. Senate.
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., a favorite to become chairman of the Financial Services Committee in the incoming Republican-controlled House, said that while tea party candidates fared well in House races, in the Senate "they didn't do well at all," according to the Shelby County Reporter.
“The Senate would be Republican today except for states [in which Palin endorsed candidates] like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware,” Bachus said at the November 4 meeting in Columbiana, Ala. “Sarah Palin cost us control of the Senate.”
Bachus is not backing off his assertions about the effect Palin’s endorsements had on the GOP’s chances for capturing the Senate, but his spokesman, Tim Johnson, pointed out today that the congressman had complimentary things to say about Palin and the tea party in his speech.
“Congressman Bachus, like other political observers, said that seats in states like Delaware and Nevada could have been won by stronger candidates, and that’s a lesson going forward,” Johnson said. Bachus's spokesman added that the boss, in his speech, was “extremely complimentary of the tea party movement and Governor Palin in crediting them with the great turnout of conservatives that led to many of the successes on Tuesday.”
In his address to the chamber, Bachus said the tea party “is on the same page as many in the country, including independents, in cutting spending, lowering taxes, and limiting the size of government,” according to Johnson.
In his speech last week, Bachus focused on the consequences of the seats Republicans failed to win in the Senate -- losses that mean Democrats still have the edge in Washington, he said.
“If you think Republicans are in charge in Washington, you can wipe that thought from your mind," Bachus said. "Democrats are in control of the presidency and the Senate. It would take 67 votes to override any veto.”
On the same day Bachus criticized her, Palin took to Twitter to tout her record.
“Remember months ago 'bullseye' icon used 2 target the 20 Obamacare-lovin' incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate; T'aint bad),” she tweeted.
Bachus contended that Republicans owe their success to the support of independent voters, and warned that their continued support must be earned.
“The American people don’t trust either political party,” he told the chamber audience. “They simply choose what they think is the lesser of two evils. The Republican Party must prove to people we mean it this time, that we are serious about less government.”
This article appears in the November 9, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.