Senior House GOP aides: WH not reaching out to House Republicans
September 9th, 2013
01:40 PM ET
7 months ago

Senior House GOP aides: WH not reaching out to House Republicans

Washington (CNN) - Senior House Republican aides are frustrated that the Obama administration has done little to reach out to rank-and-file House GOP members to make the case for why military action is needed in Syria.

"Mr. McDonough has been meeting with Democrats, but the administration has shown no strategy, no effort to talk to rank-and-file House Republican members," one senior House GOP leadership aide told CNN.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough will have separate discussions with a group of House Democrats and a group of House Republicans on Monday, according to an administration official. The president met with top House GOP leaders and committee chairs at the White House last week, and administration officials went to Capitol Hill for multiple classified briefings that were attended by members of both parties.

Dinner with GOP senators focused on potential U.S. action in Syria

But GOP aides say more personal one-on-one contacts with members haven't happened.

The president is making a national speech on Tuesday night to lay out his case for action, but these aides suggested personal appeals from the president could help make some inroads to undecided Republicans. They are complaining that the president has left it to others, and that effort that is failing to win over any new support.

"A lot of members want to hear the case from the president directly – they want to be able to say 'I talked to the president, he called me and said x.' And they want to hear what he'll do – no boots on the ground. He needs to pick up the phone."

Obama official: Syria votes are coming

Another senior House Republican aide told CNN, "It's an uphill challenge for them to get the votes - it's on them. But there are certainly some deficiencies in their strategy on how to get it done."

Even as Republican aides criticize the White House, given the strong GOP opposition to the president's plan in Syria, it's unclear what impact personal telephone calls or meetings with administration officials would have on changing the vote count among House Republicans.

Rand Paul lays out demands ahead of potential Syria filibuster

One of these aides pointed out that one of the few strong House Republican supporters the White House has – Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger - asked the White House last week how he could help rally support and didn't get a call back until he expressed his frustration on a Sunday talk show.

A White House official noted that the administration did reach out to Kinzinger and took issue with the criticism from House GOP aides that it hasn't been reaching out to House Republicans. This official noted the president and other top officials have been making telephone calls, there have been a series of briefings for members and more are scheduled this week.

"The outreach effort is ongoing," this official said.

The two top House Republicans – House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor – are both backing the president, but neither is making the hard sell to members to vote for the resolution. Both leaders are framing this as the president's plan he needs to sell. Boehner and Cantor and their aides are encouraging members to attend briefings, read classified documents and answer any questions they have.

How the Syria debate in Congress could play out this week

With polls showing most Americans are solidly against the administration's Syria policy, one of these GOP aides said the president's speech on Tuesday may be too late to turn the tide.

CNN Poll: Why it's not worth attacking Syria

"The White House just giving a fantastic speech at this point in time probably is not the best strategy," the aide said.

– CNN Senior Producer Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.


Filed under: House • Republicans • Syria
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. kirk

    Now you know how the dems in Michigan feel after the gop passed 97 laws in a two week lame duck session with zero discussion with democrats. His answer to that was " I pay someone in my cabinet to represent those views. Right, how inclusive was that.

    September 9, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. just saying

    obama obviously thinks it is beneath him to actually talk to house republicans. another example of his pathetic lack of leadership.

    September 9, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. sonny chapman

    Obama will NEVER be able to satisfy Repubs. on anything;UNLESS, it's jumping off of a very high bridge

    September 9, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  4. Data Driven

    "it's unclear what impact personal telephone calls or meetings with Administration officials would have"

    Answer: none. If elected officials have nothing to add to the debate, they should keep their mouths closed. The pointless sniping at the President advances nothing.

    September 9, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. patNY

    Why in the world would Obama want to meet with people who say no to everything he wants?

    September 9, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    "Mr. McDonough has been meeting with Democrats, but the administration has shown no strategy, no effort to talk to rank-and-file House Republican members," one senior House GOP leadership aide told CNN.
    ---------------------
    It would be nice if the Pres. were able to speak with rank and file Republicans, but he's been pretty busy attending a G-20 summit among other things. Since this "aide" knows this, they are being most dishonest to voice such a complaint, especially in light of the fact that the President has spoken to GOP leadership in both the House and Senate. Oh, and did mention that bringing the rank and file Republicans into line with their leadership is their leadership's job, not the POTUS.

    September 9, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    This is their first day back from a FIVE WEEK VACATION for goodness sake. The Teapublican House members
    are the whiniest, most irresponsible group of people I have ever seen.
    They want "personal" phone calls from the President so they can say "I talked to the President................."
    How silly is that.
    They have Full-of-Bluster Paul threatening to tie up the vote – again.
    Boehner and Cantor supporting the President's plan, but making no effort to help him, and
    the rest are too lazy or dumb to do anything but complain.
    Telling them to "attend briefings" and "read classified documents" apparently is like telling some kids
    to do their homework first, then they can go out to play. Pathetic.

    September 9, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    The WH does not recognize the existence of any party other than their own.

    September 9, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. truth hurts but reality bites

    sonny chapman
    Obama will NEVER be able to satisfy Repubs. on anything;UNLESS, it's jumping off of a very high bridge
    ---

    It was Obama that went to Congress for their approval. Did he think just because he asked for approval that everybody in Congress was just going to roll over and do what he wanted without proper communication and justification? Did he think he was ordering them to vote for the approval? It sounds and looks like Obama doesn't want to actually do the hard work of speaking to and convincing people. He is just another elected official, not a dictator or emperor. I think people in Congress, Democrats included, have had enough of that bs approach. It is not a good way to make friends and influence people. It is very disrespectful on Obama's part.

    September 9, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. Evergreen

    My guess would be that the President assumed that once he talked to the leaders of that party, they would then pass the intel and their decision to support the President on to the rank and file. I would also assume that had the President gone directly to the rank and file then Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor would complain that the President was undermining their leadership.

    September 9, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. anonymous

    patNY
    Why in the world would Obama want to meet with people who say no to everything he wants?
    --

    Why did Obama bother to ask Congress for approval if he wasn't willing to meet with them to get their support? Why didn't he just attack Syria? He already says he has the power to do it. It is clear that Obama just thinks it is his job to just order other elected representatives of the people to do whatever it is he wants. He thinks they are HIS employees. Obama is as clueless as ever.

    September 9, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Babyboomer

    @truth hurts but reality bites. Are you serious??? These folks have done nothing but disrespect the President for the past 5 years. I suspect if we looked the word up in the dictionary we'd find a picture of the entire Rep. House of Reps. Syria is serious business but with their inability to hear anything from him without total condemnation, why should he invest much time with them. I don't really expect to change your mind, it's just that your comment was sooooo outrageous, I couldn't resist responding...

    September 9, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. rs

    Why should the President go on bended knee to the Republicans? It won't change their meme one bit. They will either vote for it as the right thing to do (it is their job), or they won't and will obstruct (as normal).I think we all know what really motivates the GOP. If they are so childish that they need to be constantly reminded what their job is- they are worse than useless.

    September 9, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Its always amazed me the extent to which the GOP will invent or manufacture an incident or an attitude: the president does not do what they want, so, ergo, he never talked to them, or he is being arrogant, or he does not listen. What a load of bollocks that is. The people that are complaining that the president does not recognize the existance of any party other than their own are the same people who cannot tolerate the existance of a thought or fact other then their own. It is not disrespectful of the president to procede when he knows that all the GOP will do is disagree with him without even considering the facts of any given situation in front of them.

    September 9, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. A True Conservative

    Rudy – guess you missed that he also managed to visit a green vehicle demonstration in Europe and fit in two rounds of golf. Don't let facts get in the way of your opinion.......

    September 9, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. just asking

    Evergreen
    My guess would be that the President assumed that once he talked to the leaders of that party, they would then pass the intel and their decision to support the President on to the rank and file. I would also assume that had the President gone directly to the rank and file then Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor would complain that the President was undermining their leadership.
    --–

    you obviosuly have no clue how washington works. why should republicans be strong arming other republicans to be doing obama's bidding? heck, obama can't even get his own democrats to follow him over the syria cliff.

    obama didn't assume anything. he's just lazy and arrogant and won't do the hard work that is needed. and after 5 years he has developed no working relationship with republicans so it is hard to just say yes to him when the first time he comes to you is when he wants to go to war and needs political cover.

    September 9, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. Tony D

    O'drama ya Mama
    The American people should not have a say in something they have limited knowledge on.
    ----

    Yes, we should just STFU and follow our emperor in whatever endeavor he deems worthy. Our death or the deaths of our children are just a small sacrifice for der Fuhrer. HELLO! This is the USA in 2013! Get real. We don't educate people only to tell them to park their brain when it comes ot life and death decisions. Yikes... you people on the left are dangerous little lemmings.

    September 9, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  18. rs

    Let's see: 1 hearing for the Senate Foreign Relation Committee with the Secretary of State; 1 hearing with the House Committee (also withe the Sect. of State); onging briefings held by McDonough; meetings with majority and minority leaders in the House and Senate, and the twisted, reality-challenged GOP claim the President doesn't speak with them?

    Just another GOP lie- like when they tried to claim no one invited them to take part in the "I have a dream" day MLK events. What an amazingly clueless bunch.

    September 9, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. Tampa Tim

    Wait until the guns and ammo group stops giving the former war party, (now the party of Putin) campaign donations because the GOP no longer represents them, but the baggers now represent the oatmeal industry.

    September 9, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  20. kirk

    George could have jetsetted with celebrities too, if he could find any that were interested

    September 9, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  21. rs

    "Did he think just because he asked for approval that everybody in Congress was just going to roll over and do what he wanted without proper communication and justification?"
    __________________________
    No, he expects then to behave like adults and do their jobs- something none of them actally deserve given their track record of nothingness.

    September 9, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    @A True Conservative
    Rudy – guess you missed that he also managed to visit a green vehicle demonstration in Europe and fit in two rounds of golf. Don't let facts get in the way of your opinion.......

    Thank God you are part of a dying breed!

    September 9, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  23. Disgusted

    What part of "White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough will have separate discussions with a group of House Democrats and a group of House Republicans on Monday, according to an administration official. The president met with top House GOP leaders and committee chairs at the White House last week, and administration officials went to Capitol Hill for multiple classified briefings that were attended by members of both parties." did some of you not understand? There are 242 House Republicans, let's call them all so they can see if they can make the POTUS grovel at their feet only to laugh and vote against him?

    September 9, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  24. Malory Archer

    Maybe because when he calls, they either decline his invitation or just flat out ignore the call.

    September 9, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  25. Disgusted

    Time to put the Big Boy Panties on and deal.

    September 9, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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