Meet the GOP’s 2014 Bogeyman

Exit Nancy Pelosi. Enter Harry Reid.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) talks to reporters about the use of the 'nuclear option' at the U.S. Capitol November 21, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Karyn Bruggeman
Dec. 3, 2013, 5:06 p.m.

The Obama­care de­bacle has gif­ted Re­pub­lic­ans with a fight­ing chance to re­take the U.S. Sen­ate, and who bet­ter to cast as the evil spir­it that haunts Con­gress’s up­per cham­ber than Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id.

Re­id is the face of a Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate caucus that has tied it­self in knots try­ing to fix what ails the health care law. Plus, his de­cision to strip the Re­pub­lic­an minor­ity of its power to fili­buster Pres­id­ent Obama’s ju­di­cial and ex­ec­ut­ive ap­point­ments has un­leashed a fresh wave of de­ri­sion from the GOP. (Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, R-Ala., called Re­id “a dic­tat­or,” and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., de­clared that the ma­jor­ity lead­er was act­ing like a “bully.”)

Already, Re­pub­lic­ans on the trail are ty­ing their Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ents to Re­id.

The Ju­di­cial Crisis Net­work launched a TV ad Monday against vul­ner­able Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., ac­cus­ing her of vot­ing to pack the courts with “Obama’s lib­er­al act­iv­ist judges.” The ad al­ludes to Re­id’s in­voc­a­tion of the “nuc­le­ar op­tion” to clear the way for ju­di­cial ap­point­ments, stat­ing “Landrieu even helped change the rules, help­ing Obama pack a key court with new lib­er­al judges.” The ad in­cludes a photo of Landrieu speak­ing with Re­id look­ing over her shoulder.

Re­id’s pres­ence in the ad is par­tic­u­larly not­able be­cause the group is­sued a nearly identic­al ad tar­get­ing Sen. Mark Pry­or, D-Ark., in early Novem­ber, be­fore Re­id changed the fili­buster rules. That ad had no im­ages or ref­er­ences to Re­id, sig­nal­ing that the Sen­ate lead­er’s re­cent ac­tions have nudged him un­der the Re­pub­lic­an heat lamp.

In Geor­gia, GOP Sen­ate can­did­ate Phil Gin­grey re­leased an ad on Nov. 12 pledging, if elec­ted, to re­tire after one term if he doesn’t suc­cess­fully re­peal Obama­care. Gin­grey says, “As a doc­tor I took an oath to do no harm, and Obama­care is so harm­ful that I voted to re­peal or de­fund it over 40 times. But our ef­forts die in the Sen­ate,” at which point Re­id’s im­age ap­pears as the face of a Demo­crat­ic Sen­ate res­ist­ant to re­peal.

Re­id’s un­pop­ular­ity is noth­ing new. His job-ap­prov­al rat­ings — along with those of oth­er con­gres­sion­al lead­ers — have nose­dived. In a na­tion­al Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll last month, Re­id’s ap­prov­al rat­ings stood at just 27 per­cent, com­pared with a 52 per­cent ma­jor­ity who dis­ap­proved. Those rat­ings were sim­il­ar to those of House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, House Speak­er John Boehner, and Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell.

Re­id’s emer­gence as the Re­pub­lic­an Party’s Pub­lic En­emy No. 1 bumps Pelosi from the top of the list. Her name and face were reg­u­lar fix­tures in con­ser­vat­ive mi­cro-sites, Web ads, TV com­mer­cials, and fun­drais­ing pitches dur­ing the 2010 and 2012 cycles. The play­book against Pelosi was simple: Wheth­er it was her stew­ard­ship of Obama­care and the “failed stim­u­lus,” or the char­ac­ter­iz­a­tion of her as “a San Fran­cisco lib­er­al,” the evoc­a­tion of her name served as a ral­ly­ing cry for Re­pub­lic­ans look­ing to win back and pro­tect their ma­jor­ity in the House.

But Pelosi’s not in charge of the House any­more, and with the pos­sib­il­ity of fun­drais­ing to op­pose Hil­lary Clin­ton per­haps a year or two away, Re­pub­lic­ans ap­pear to be look­ing for a fresh bo­gey­man.

Brock Mc­Cle­ary, founder of the GOP auto­mated-polling firm Harp­er Polling and a vet­er­an of the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee, said voters will “greet Harry Re­id back as the minor­ity lead­er” if Re­pub­lic­ans can ef­fect­ively make their case against Obama­care now that it ex­ists as more than “mere the­ory” as it did in 2010. And if Gin­grey’s ad is any in­dic­a­tion, Re­id is likely to be­come one of the main pub­lic faces of the law’s prob­lems.

Re­pub­lic­an ad maker Brad Todd of On­Mes­sage largely agrees, say­ing be­cause Obama won’t face reelec­tion again and Pelosi has already been de­posed, the one place where voters can take out their frus­tra­tion on Obama’s agenda is with Re­id. Todd said in past years Re­id has “been trick­i­er to use in ad­vert­ising” be­cause he’s been re­l­at­ively suc­cess­ful at shield­ing vul­ner­able mem­bers of his caucus from con­tro­ver­sial votes. But mov­ing for­ward, as Re­id’s “role in the Sen­ate be­comes more cent­ral” and “the fact that Obama­care has now be­come as cent­ral as it did,” Re­id will have to “own” his stake in the law’s prob­lems and un­pop­ular­ity.

Todd put it this way: “If you want to change things in Wash­ing­ton, the lever for change is Re­id’s hold on the Sen­ate.”

What We're Following See More »
LITTLE MARCO FOR SENATE
Trump to Rubio: Run for Reelection
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump may have defeated Sen. Marco Rubio's presidential ambitions, but he wants the man he dubbed Little Marco to keep his job in the Senate. "Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida," Trump tweeted Thursday evening. "Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!" Trump is not the first to urge Rubio to run, though the senator has said such a move is unlikely. The filing deadline is June 24. 

Source:
FIRST SITTING POTUS TO VISIT
At Hiroshima, Obama Calls For Nuke-Free World
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

President Obama called for an end to nuclear weapons Friday during a somber visit to Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan, where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb 71 years ago. "That is the future we can choose,” Obama said. “A future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not for the bomb of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

Source:
AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
21 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
23 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
TRUMP FLOATED IDEA ON JIMMY KIMMEL’S SHOW
Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
1 days ago
THE LATEST
×