How the House GOP Is Setting the Agenda for the Party’s 2016 Candidates

Presidential hopefuls like Rand Paul are being forced to react to the actions of House Republicans.

US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to the press outside after listening to US President Barack Obama speak about poverty during an event in the East Room of the White House's private dining room January 9, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Alex Roarty
Add to Briefcase
Alex Roarty
Aug. 22, 2014, 8:12 a.m.

On Thursday, the night­mare scen­ario many top Re­pub­lic­ans have feared about their up­com­ing White House primary star­ted to hap­pen.

In an in­ter­view with Breit­bart News (flagged by The Huff­ing­ton Post), Rand Paul said he sup­ports a House-ap­proved meas­ure to end Pres­id­ent Obama’s ex­ec­ut­ive ac­tion to de­fer de­port­a­tions for il­leg­al im­mig­rants who came to the United States as chil­dren. Earli­er this month, the vast ma­jor­ity of House Re­pub­lic­ans, up­set with what they con­sidered ex­ec­ut­ive-branch over­reach, voted to end De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, or DACA.

“I’m sup­port­ive of the House bill and I think it will go a long way to fix­ing the prob­lem,” Paul said, ac­cord­ing to Breit­bart.

The Ken­tucky sen­at­or’s po­s­i­tion on the im­mig­ra­tion meas­ure mat­ters a great deal for his own pu­tat­ive pres­id­en­tial cam­paign. Paul has made a much-pub­li­cized push to broaden the GOP’s ap­peal to ra­cial minor­it­ies. At the same time, he is try­ing to win the sup­port of hard-line con­ser­vat­ives who dom­in­ate the nom­in­at­ing pro­cess. In this case, he has ap­par­ently de­cided the lat­ter is more im­port­ant.

But his in­ter­view Thursday mat­ters more for what it says about the re­la­tion­ship between the GOP’s con­gres­sion­al branch and its field of pres­id­en­tial hope­fuls. The would-be lead­ers like Paul aren’t set­ting their own agen­das; in­stead, they’re be­ing forced to re­act to the ac­tions of Re­pub­lic­an con­gress­men. And in most cases—with their eyes locked firmly on the GOP primary—they shy away from dis­agree­ing with a le­gis­lat­ive body that best re­flects the col­lect­ive will of the party’s con­ser­vat­ive bloc.

That’s a prob­lem for a party that just two years ago was con­vinced it needed to win over vot­ing blocs like ra­cial minor­it­ies, wo­men, and young people—all of whom it un­der­per­formed with in 2012. Most of the House GOP’s ac­tions, com­ing from mem­bers whose main threat comes not from a gen­er­al elec­tion but a primary, re­flect a far dif­fer­ent set of elect­or­al in­cent­ives than those that con­front can­did­ates seek­ing na­tion­al of­fice.

Re­peal­ing DACA, for ex­ample, bran­dishes a Re­pub­lic­an’s claim in his or her own dis­trict to hold the pres­id­ent ac­count­able, but in a pres­id­en­tial race it threatens to ali­en­ate Latino voters who con­sti­tute an ever-lar­ger share of the vote in battle­grounds like Col­or­ado, Flor­ida, and Nevada. It’s no co­in­cid­ence that in one of the few midterm-elec­tion battle­grounds whose elect­or­ate mir­rors the coun­try’s, the Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate can­did­ate, Rep. Cory Gard­ner, voted “no” on the meas­ure.

And now that Paul has staked out a po­s­i­tion on im­mig­ra­tion, pres­sure will grow on his po­ten­tial rivals to fol­low suit. It’s a fa­mil­i­ar situ­ation for Re­pub­lic­ans: Dur­ing the last primary, the House GOP voted al­most un­an­im­ously in fa­vor of polit­ic­ally tricky meas­ures like the Ry­an budget or de­fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood.

Be­fore long, those po­s­i­tions had be­come stand­ard-is­sue among all of the Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial con­tenders—in­clud­ing the even­tu­al nom­in­ee, Mitt Rom­ney.

It’s a pro­cess Re­pub­lic­an strategists openly fret about. And with three months be­fore the midterm elec­tions even end, it’s already start­ing to hap­pen.

What We're Following See More »
SANS PROOF
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
21 hours ago
UPDATE
NEW TRAVEL BAN COMING SOON
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
23 hours ago
UPDATE
“WE’RE CHANGING IT”
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 days ago
UPDATE

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

FAKE NEWS
Trump Goes After The Media
1 days ago
UPDATE

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login