By voting for the healthcare bill, Democrats who are not in safe seats committed “political suicide” and risk losing their majority in the House of Representatives, Republican strategist Ed Gillespie tells Newsmax.
“The tack that Speaker Pelosi is taking here is remarkable to me,” says Gillespie, who was counselor to President George W. Bush and general manager of Robert McDonnell’s campaign in Virginia.
“Marching these Democrats to a vote on "Pelosicare" is really putting the Democrats’ control of the House at risk. I always assumed that they were willing to sacrifice 20 Democratic House seats to get this government-run healthcare put in place. But it looks like they were willing to sacrifice as much as 40 of them.”
House members from liberal areas like San Francisco will be re-elected without a problem, Gillespie says. “But there are a lot of members for whom voting for Pelosicare is the equivalent of political suicide,” he says. “I think it puts at risk their majority.”
Looking at the results of the elections in New Jersey and Virginia, Gillespie says, “It’s clear that independent voters have really moved away from the Obama administration’s spending and debt.
"There’s a lot of concern out there over government intervention into our economy, whether it’s on healthcare or energy or the banks or the autos, and that put some wind to Governor-elect [Chris] Christie and McDonnell’s backs, which was good. They also had positive agendas, and in New Jersey you had the added factor that Governor Jon Corzine, the incumbent, had very low approval ratings, and people wanted to make a change there.”
In Virginia, “I think Bob McDonnell showed how a conservative can run on a proactive, positive policy agenda and communicate that to independent voters and pick up a big majority of those independents, who are critical in Virginia and in New Jersey and the rest of the country,” Gillespie notes. “So I think he’s really kind of put a template out there for conservatives to win in swing areas, because Virginia is a purple state.”
While negative reactions to Obama played a part, any election pivots on a number of factors, Gillespie says.
“I think it’s a mistake to ignore that Bob McDonnell ran on a very aggressive policy agenda rooted in lower taxes and less regulation and greater innovation and market-oriented policies to create jobs in the commonwealth, to improve schools through charter schools, which not only helps the students in charter schools but the students in non-charter schools,” Gillespie says.
“He ran on filling the budget hole in Richmond by allowing for offshore drilling, which will create new revenue as well as new jobs and bring down the cost of energy. He ran on helping to pay for new roads by privatizing state-run liquor stores.”
McDonnell effectively communicated to voters outside the Republican base and made good use of technology, Gillespie says.
“Technology allowed for us to communicate directly with a lot of voters and get information out in a very timely manner to counter distortions in the media or attacks in television advertising,” he says. The campaign was in direct contact through social networks or e-mails or texting with over 200,000 voters, Gillespie says.
“When there are fewer than 2 million votes cast, that’s pretty impressive, and it really helped sustain Governor-elect McDonnell through some pretty nasty attacks from the other side,” he says.
Gillespie notes that McDonnell ran an inclusive campaign.
“He reached out to non-traditionally Republican voters, minority voters, African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American voters, and his performance with those voters, particularly in Northern Virginia, helped make him the biggest vote-getter in the history of Virginia for a governor,” Gillespie says.
The fact that the White House said Obama was not watching the election returns was an effort to “send a signal that 'oh, you know, we don’t care about that stuff,'” Gillespie says. “Having served in the White House, I am very skeptical of that. It could be a disdain for public opinion, and an intention to move forward with an ideological agenda that is not in synch with a majority of Americans.”
For Republicans, “There is a strange sensation in the air, and it’s the wind at our back,” Gillespie observes. “We haven’t felt it in a while. But the key is to maximize it, and to do that we have to do more than just simply run against President Obama.
"We have to not only provide a good, coherent, intellectual and moral critique of too much government intervention in our economy and our lives. We have to put forward a positive alternative agenda, and so do our candidates as they look to run for office. I think that’s what voters are looking for from their elected leaders.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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