President Obama’s veto Tuesday of the Keystone XL pipeline to Canada will pay dividends for Republican candidates in 2016, according to three former national campaign chiefs for the GOP.
In separate interviews with Newsmax Wednesday, former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele and former Reps. John Linder of Georgia and Tom Davis of Virginia — both past chairmen of the National Republican Congressional Committee — agreed that the veto would boost their party’s candidates for the House and Senate in mid-term elections next year.
"Yes, it will definitely help Republicans, especially if gas prices go up," Davis told us. He specifically said the Keystone veto could hurt Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado when he faces the voters next year, even though Bennet voted for it.
Steele, who was RNC chairman when Republicans had their big sweep in the midterm elections of 2010, said that the veto "gives [Republican] candidates a big talking point and allows them to emphasize the hypocrisy of an administration that claims to want to make America energy-independent and to create jobs — but only on its terms."
He noted that "Keystone XL is supported by leading Republicans, Democrats, and some of America’s largest labor unions. However, environmental progressives, a core constituency of the Obama political base, had promised acts of "civil disobedience" if the president signed off on the project and, in their eyes, undermined their "green agenda." His veto takes care of that.
"Meanwhile good jobs will go elsewhere, but hey, maybe that’s been the plan all along."
Linder, campaign chairman for House Republicans from 1996-98, told Newsmax that the vote in Congress and the veto from the White House drew the line between supporters and opponents of the pipeline in time for the ’16 elections.
"The folks that needed a 'yes' vote got their yes vote," he said, "Those who needed a 'no' vote got that. Obama will get all the blame in red states and take all the credit in blue states. The pipeline debate will go on for another 22 months.
"Meanwhile the Canadians will be closer to getting their East and West lines completed and we will have more competition for their oil and thus higher prices."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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