March 27th, 2009
02:40 PM ET
12 years ago

Senate GOP plots comeback

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Sen. Mitch McConnell also said he doesn't mind the 'party of no' label congressional Democrats and the White House try to pin on Republican."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Despite crushing defeats in the last two elections, Senate Republicans have new "energy and enthusiasm" aimed at winning back the majority, says their leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Why the turnaround?

"President Bush had become extremely unpopular, and politically he was sort of a millstone around our necks in both '06 and '08," McConnell said in a roundtable with reporters Friday. "We now have the opportunity to be on offense, offer our own ideas and we will win some."

Many of those ideas get presented as amendments to Democratic bills which, though usually defeated, can still draw attention to GOP policy alternatives and often force Democrats to take difficult votes.

"They become the way you chart the course for a comeback," McConnell said. "Which in this country, always happens at some point."

"The pendulum swings," he said.

Interestingly, McConnell said many of the clever ideas for amendments come from conservative think tanks and other Republican thinkers off Capitol Hill.

"Newt Gingrich, for example, has an idea a minute. Many of those are quite good. Many of those become amendments," he said.

McConnell also said he doesn't mind the "party of no" label congressional Democrats and the White House try to pin on Republicans.

"I don't feel anyone should be apologetic for opposing a bad idea," McConnell said. "I'm not fearful of an effort to demonize dissent," he said.

Filed under: GOP • Mitch McConnell • Senate
soundoff (138 Responses)
  1. Dave NYC

    Oh the pendulum will swing alright, but it's not done swinging to the Left yet, Sen. McConnell. Republicans are going to have to do more than obstruct Change in Washington – they are going to have to offer truly new ideas – and frankly I haven't heard a single one yet.

    The Dems don't have a super majority yet – but they will in the next election – and then we can really begin to turn America around for the better.

    March 27, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  2. Mississippi Mike

    Regardless of what's happening on Capitol Hill, the senate seats held by Democrats that are coming open this time around are likely to be in play for Republicans, which should help the GOP pick up a few new seats. All the talk about the GOP being dead is just hype, you could have said the same thing about the Democrats in 2000 or 2002. It's all cyclical, just wait, you'll see.

    March 27, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  3. Blue IN

    Sounds to me like he's relying on physics as applied to elections more than the GOP's worthiness of a comeback. Which is not much of a strategy. Here's to waiting for that pendulum to swing back your way, Mr. McConnell!

    March 27, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. Happy Camper

    The only way republicans can win is if they nominate Ron Paul as the leader. It's simple, we want honest politicians.

    March 27, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. MARK WI.

    To late, the pendulum has already delivered the knockout punch to the GOP, and I really don't believe they are Sylvester Stallone

    March 27, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  6. alvino

    President Bush is only part of the republican problem. When you have no ideas, it is hard to be taken seriously.

    March 27, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. Marc T

    Ever notice that high ranking Republicans are only worried about their own recovery and NOT the nation's recovery? He's dead wrong on the strategy. The ONLY things that might cause me to reconsider going Republican is if I saw them:
    1) Be genuinely concerned about the American people,
    2) Offer to dig in and help instead of just complaining,
    3) Showed one ounce of cooperation or acknowledgment that things must change,
    4) Quit forcing their conservative religious ideals on everyone, and
    5) Truly acted unbiased towards ALL people, regardless of race, sex, or national origin.
    So, yes, they have an opportunity to restore the party... but given the above, I doubt they will.

    March 27, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. porchhound

    Ditch Gingrich and you may have a chance. He BLEW his chance after the 1994 Contract With America gave the Repubs control of Congress. He went back on every promise he made (much like OBAMA is doing now). He even went so far as to de-fund the freshman congressmen via the RNC who tried to hold his feet to the fire in 1995-96. He had his eye on the Presidency and immediately compromised the conservative principles which got his party elected by trying to straddle the fence on every issue.

    March 27, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. Kathy

    Is he going after the other senators in his party who have taken money from the companies that got TARP money just last month???

    Robert Bennett, R-Utah, $1,000 from Chrysler
    Richard Burr, R-N.C., $5,000 from Bank of America
    Jim DeMint, R-S.C., $2,000 from Citigroup; $1,000 from Bank of America; $2,000 from BB&T; $1,000
    from U.S. Bancorp employee PAC
    Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., $1,000 from Citigroup
    Richard Shelby, R-Ala., $5,000 from Bank of America
    Arlen Specter, R-Pa., $2,000 from Chrysler
    George Voinovich, R-Ohio, $5,000 from Bank of America

    March 27, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  10. arithmetic is liberal

    Good luck, McConnell.
    The pedulum is currently still swinging left, with increasing momentum.

    The last time the Republicans screwed up the country this badly, it took 20 years before another Republican sat in the White House. And Eisenhower was a LIBERAL Republican!

    March 27, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. phoenix86

    The GOP really needs to thank Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Rangle, Dodd, Frank and Obama for showing America that liberalism really means that the government can liberally take whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and from whomever it wants.

    Liberalism is nothing more than facism with an Orwellian name.

    March 27, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. shucks

    Energy and enthusiasm? How about lack of leadership, lack of policy ideas, lack of money, and lack of respect. The only energy and enthusiasm coming from the republican party is all negative. America had enough of the negative for the last eight years. The Democratic party is trying to include everyone. The fact that the republicans refuse to visit, sit down, or even engage in fruitful conversation with the president will definitely not sit well during the next election with American that voted for change.

    March 27, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Jim

    If the GOP puts all their eggs in one basket hoping things don't turn around in the economy just to play the "we told you so" card next election we could have big problems. Should the economy start to improve we could see Repulicans getting voted out left and right. As an Independent voter I don't want to see this. The only thing worse than a two party system is a one party system.


    March 27, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. Fan of Common Sense


    (Think more like Reagan–less like Bush. The American people are yearning for a clear distinction!!!)

    March 27, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Big Ed

    Paying attention to the voters and accepting the challenges of the everyday, hard working Americans would be a good start. After all, that is supposed to be why politicians are elected to office. The Republicans lost, because they lost sight of what is important to Americans. It's time that the politicians put their own greed and wants aside and start working for the country, not the special interest groups.

    March 27, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. Mark

    It won't be to hard with Obama's socialist economic ideas.

    March 27, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. Peter E

    The problem is that the GOP's 'alternative' is still too costly. They claim it only costs half as much, but if you read the details (they post it on their website) that's only the half they have estimates for so far. They have several more items in there that are clones of the Obama budget that they didn't include in the total because they just didn't have estimates for their cost so far. It's a hidden cost, fuzzy math, and in the end the budget will be almost exactly the same. That's not an 'alternative' in my opinion.

    March 27, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Moderate Democrat

    So...what you are saying is: We put Bush as our party leader, we voted overwhelmingly for all of his policies. They were bad votes and we sucked for eight straight years. So we will do the same thing, same ideas, and hope that the voters are fooled.

    No thanks, same-ol, same-ol.

    Why don't you obstructionists quit blaming eveyrone for your own failings. Take your own advice and not blame Bush. Isn't it you all who say's "Quit blaming bush for everything wrong"? Suck it up and just admit your party as a whole really sucks and needs to become extinct!

    March 27, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. xddy4u

    Fighting everything Obama is trying to do to get the Economy back on the right track, is not the best way to regain Congress. It was they that got us in this MESS, now they want the American people to forget that. Their whole Party is in DISARRAY. But yet they want to lead the people back into the "Wilderness" of Hopelessness.

    March 27, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Taniel

    It's telling that, on the day the Senate GOP announces its big comeback, two new polls show them losing North Carolina and Missouri's Senate seats.

    March 27, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Peggy - TX

    “The pendulum swings” – yes, but the current momentum of the pendulum (i.e. America’s support) is still swinging towards the Dems. It will likely take another 10 years for the Republicans to gain enough momentum for another party to take the momentum from the Dems and then they will have to come up with a new name because Republican is now “trash”. Why 10 years? The answer is that it will take that at least that long for the old mindsets holding back the Republican Party to loosen their strangle hold on that Party. The mindset , for example, we are so good at lying that the vast majority of American people can be fooled for ever. Or Tinkle down really works and pure unrestrained capitalism is religion and open to discussion. Also, every Republican initiative must serve the Wealthy and business community and protect them from the populous. The belief that they can forever pull along the Christian and Mormon extremist while appealing to main stream America is just not going to happen. These groups will splinter off eventually and become further isolated and insignificant. Given the current political and social trends, the next President to follow Obama in eight years will likely be way more left then Obama, thus opening the door for a spring back to new improved conservative way of doing things.

    March 27, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. Carmine Abbattiello

    As long as the stock market keeps rising its going to be hard to beat the Dems. The GOPs best shot is to totally destabilize the US economy. Oh wait, they already did that 😉

    March 27, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. proud army navy mom

    "President Bush had become extremely unpopular, and politically he was sort of a millstone around our necks."

    Funny that is exactly how I have felt the whole eight long years he was there.

    March 27, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Rick

    The republicans are going to come back alright.....the utter failure of the Obama administration has seen to that. The challenge for the republicans will be to govern as conservatives, not as pseudo-liberals.

    March 27, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Sammy

    If their "budget" is any indication of their new winning strategy, I don't think the dems have a thing to worry about.

    I hope they propose more tax cuts for the rich and a spending freeze – those are two winning proposals for the republicans.

    I guess they think the American public is as stupid as they are.

    March 27, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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