Senior House GOP aides: WH not reaching out to House Republicans
September 9th, 2013
01:40 PM ET
12 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. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Why would the president bother consulting with a GOP house with an 11% approval rating , it's a waste of his time and ours GOP morons. Nobody has ANY respect for any of you !!!!!

    September 9, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Gunderson

    Oh,
    Now why Obummy meet with Republician's. He say one thing, do another. He say Budget be Balanced at end of first term.
    Big Lie. He say we have emegency need pass stimulus so Shovel Ready jobs happen. Lot's of Shovels, no jobs. He say Rich no pay fair share. big Lie. nobody rich. How you like Obama?Soviet plan so far?

    September 9, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    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.......
    ---------------
    Who's expressing an opinion? The members were on vacation, this is their first day back, and it is an AIDE that has made the complaint. How far down the ladder is that?

    Besides, after speaking to the GOP leadership and reaching a consensus opinion, it is up to the same GOP leadership's responsibility to sell the idea to their own caucus, not the president's.

    September 9, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. norma jean

    Maybe the reason the president hasn't made a point to talk to the "rank and file" Republicans is because they have become too " RANK"!!!! He has gotten NO help from them for years and now all of a sudden they think they have the answer for everything...... ....as to the rest of you writers..."DON'T LET THE TRUTH SLOW YOU DOWN EITHER"........

    September 9, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein

    Really? There're complaining because they don't get first visit from White House reps? Do they not remember that most Repbulicans have been at times very insulting to the president and his cabinet? If the president really wants to get this done, these member of the House will get their visit.

    September 9, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    -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.
    **************************
    Cantor's job is Party Whip, meaning, that he is responsible for discipline and getting votes lined up. If the Speaker says to do something, it is up to the Whip and his/her deputies to make sure the votes are there. Its you who, once again, does not have a clue as to how DC works. Its Boehnor and Cantor who are lazy and arrogant, who prefer to embarrass this great country even further by backtracking from any position that involves guts and principles. Just do everyone a favor and STFU before you pad your already rich legacy of stupidity by commenting further.

    September 9, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    PROCEED Mr. President. Their two-cents worth are worthless.
    Proceed sir...

    September 9, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Real Tom Paine
    @ just asking
    Its you who, once again, does not have a clue as to how DC works. Its Boehnor and Cantor who are lazy and arrogant, who prefer to embarrass this great country even further by backtracking from any position that involves guts and principles. Just do everyone a favor and STFU before you pad your already rich legacy of stupidity by commenting further.
    -------------------------------------------------
    I'll CO-SIGN THAT!!!
    Well said Tom Paine.

    September 9, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Oregon

    Prospects aren't good, of a rational discussion with dummies. Face it, the GOP has been taken over by a core of voters dumb enough to fall for birther ideology. Anyone from their party is forced to cater to that type of voter, by acting equally dumb.

    September 9, 2013 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. Dumbas[R]ocks

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

    Do you think that might be because there actually is no other functional political party other than the [D]s right now? The Teaparty led dysfunction and uber-partisan back-sniping currently known as the [R] party is an utter joke, and an abominable embarrassment to modern humans.

    September 9, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    " He's lazy, he's arrogant, he's clueless, he's leading from behind": does anyone think that people who's first impulse upon hearing about a crisis is to run and scream " Not with my money, I'm the only person in the universe who works!" can really be trusted with understanding the nuances of foreign policy in the Middle East? Hell, these are people who think they are being robbed when the people who's tax dollars prop them up need their money back to rebuild( I'm talking about the Red State takers after Sandy). No where on the Right do you see any visionary voices on anything: they have all become " What's in it for me, and why should I give a damn about another soul?" For them, its all about what they hate and fear, not about what they want to build.

    September 9, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    I recall how President Obama tried reach out to rank and file Republicans during the debt limit debacle and they turned him down. Apparently it is considered bad form among Republicans to be caught seen entering or leaving the White House. Earlier this year, President Obama reached out to rank and file Republicans and wound up in neutral territory having dinner at restaurants. Remember that, folks?

    September 9, 2013 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. Name Uche Agonsi

    'Reach out'!!?...... Isn't it on this same matter Congressman McGovern said it required a vote of conscience? For goodness sake, this issue does not need irresponsible party affiliation or brain-washed opinion for any STUPID Congressman to decide. The facts have already been highlighted by Mr. President, white house staff, all the media channels. How does it really feel for Mr. President to discuss the matter again privately with every congressman. I expect these Repubs and their aids dust off their dirty asses and move up to do what AMERICAN Electorates want them to do.

    September 9, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oregon: "Anyone from their party is forced to cater to that type of voter, by acting equally dumb."

    Considering that 57% percent of those polled in CNNs newest poll stated that it makes no difference to them which way their representatives vote, there is more than "catering to a certain political party" going on here.

    Would you be more likely to vote for your representative from Congress if that person voted in
    favor of using U.S. military force in Syria, or if that person voted against using military force in
    Syria, or would it not make a difference to your vote either way?
    Sept. 6-8
    2013
    In favor 11%
    Against 31%
    No difference 57%
    No opinion 1%

    September 9, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Gary

    Maybe he went to your office looking for you, but you where on vacation. Again!

    September 9, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. GOP = Greed Over People

    Every time President O offers a hand to the House GOP, they snap off a finger, so after 4 tries between giving tax cuts in the Stimulus to pushing out timelines for small businesses in Obamacare(s) why should he donate his last one?

    Personally, I hope it is the middle digit, and he displays it to the GOP House, upright and erect!

    September 9, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. just asking

    The Real Tom Paine
    Cantor's job is Party Whip, meaning, that he is responsible for discipline and getting votes lined up. If the Speaker says to do something, it is up to the Whip and his/her deputies to make sure the votes are there.
    ---

    yes fool, for legislation that they support! you honestly think anybody is going to force or strong arm other elected representatives to vote to go to war based on political pressure?! you really need to get your head extracted from your backside. that may be the way the mindless democrats do things but it is not the way the republicans do things. besides, beohner had already made it clear to obama he wasn't going to be trying to get people lined up. that was the clueless wonder in the white house's job. but he i sjust too lazy and arrogant to do it. must have had a golf date.

    September 9, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Donna

    It is pretty clear at this point that most of the Republican House members, as well as many of the Democrat House members, are on the same page with a clear majority of the American people. And that page says NO WAR WITH SYRIA. It is Obama and his far left koolaide drinkers that want ot drag this country into a Syrian civil war when the only beneficiaries would be either a murderous dictator or radical jihadis. The American people know a pig with lip stick when they see one Obama. Go sell crazy somewhere else.

    September 9, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. tom l

    @The Real TP
    "Its you who, once again, does not have a clue as to how DC works. Its Boehnor and Cantor who are lazy and arrogant, who prefer to embarrass this great country even further by backtracking from any position that involves guts and principles. "

    Hope you have been well and I enjoy commenting with you. However, I think you're off on this. I do agree that Boehner and Cantor stink, but they have been the ones who have backed President Obama on Syria. And if anyone is arrogant, it's our president who feels it's beneath him to speak with lowly congressmen and congresswomen. Plus, President Obama has been the one doing backtracking. He's the one who declared the red line and then pawned off that supposed red line that he drew on the rest of the world. That's not very leaderlike at all. For the record, as you are probably well aware of, I am completely against this pending fiasco.
    Not to mention the fact that the president has not stated what the goals are, what we are trying to accomplish, how this would make the US safer and why we are the ones that have to go at this (with absolutley no other country willing to help). This just makes no sense and I fully believe that if this was a repub president that you wouldn't be so much in favor of this.

    September 9, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rudy NYC
    Remember that, folks?
    -------------------------------------------------
    Oh we remember MUCH more than that Rudy... Invitations to watch games at the WH unanswered and unattended. Governors fleeing to the other side of their state when the POTUS came to visit. Governors putting their fingers in the POTUS face for the cameras to film and capture. High-ranking Rethugs telling the President they were too busy to attend meetings. Rethugs leaving for vacation and not answering the call to come back and hammer out the problems of the nation.....
    Oh we remember.
    Hell, that's ALL we remember because that's ALL they've done for 5 plus years.

    September 9, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Dennis Freeman

    Do you think reaching out really matters? Whatever the Pres. recommends the Tea Party/GOP is against. He should tell them to vote GOP...

    September 9, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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