Tags: GOP | Wins | Election | Held | Today

GOP Wins If Election Held Today

Friday, 01 September 2006 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- If congressional elections were held today, Republicans would hold their majority in the House and Senate, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said in an interview.

Mehlman bases that conclusion on a recent meeting with his regional political directors, on private polling, and on analyses of individual races.

Mehlman conceded that the House is in a "competitive situation." In the House, 35 to 40 seats are in play, he said. In the Senate, 12 or 13 seats could change hands. To tilt the balance, Democrats would have to pick up six seats in the Senate and 15 seats in the House.

Mehlman said, "I believe that the combination of the relatively narrow playing field, the relatively strong financial position our folks are in and the national party is in, the good turnout operation that we have, the motivation of our base, and the lack of motivation of their base as indicated by turnout in a number of recent Democrat primaries," will do the trick.

NewsMax.com articles on Aug. 28 about Karl Rove and on June 12 about Mehlman's Voter Vault detailed the GOP's voter mobilization efforts.

While the public polls indicate that Democrats have an advantage over Republicans, "There's not been a single primary this year where there's been a big increase in their motivation," Mehlman said. "Add all that together and what you say is, we're in a very challenging environment, but I believe that if the election were run today, we would not lose the House or the Senate. That's not a line, that's the honest truth."

Mehlman said the Democrats' biggest problem is the relative lack of open seats and the fact that so many of those open seats are in pro-Bush districts.

"I would argue that this is an anti-incumbent year," Mehlman said. "But if you assume it's an anti-Republican year, the places where they are most susceptible to anti-Republican wins are open seats because there, the Republican congressman doesn't exist."

Candidates like Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, R-Conn.; Rep. Chris Shays, R-Conn.; Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Penn.; and Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn. have "independent brand equity, separate and apart from being Republicans," Mehlman said.

"The year 1994 was the greatest year we had in a hundred years, but we only beat two Democrat incumbents," Mehlman said. "Other than that, it was open seats where we picked up all those seats for the Senate in '94. And the reason was that it's very hard to beat an incumbent who has independent equity separate from the party."

Despite the spin of Washington reporters, Mehlman said, President Bush, first lady Laura Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney are in big demand by congressional candidates.

"The president has done a historic number of events for these candidates," Mehlman said. "On the ground, what we're finding is there are more requests than we can possibly fill, and he's [Bush] doing events at a level that we haven't seen since 2002."

Laura Bush alone has brought in $10.7 million for Republicans.

Asked about Howard Dean's comments predicting defeat in Iraq, Mehlman said, "I think Chairman Dean is a good spokesman for where his party is today. I think he is a very good chairman of the party of [Ned] Lamont," the Democratic candidate for Senate in Connecticut. "They say that Lamont is the future of the Democratic Party. I agree with them. So does Howard Dean."

Asked if he thinks Democrats who have called for an immediate pullout from Iraq have visualized what would happen and don't care about the long-term consequences, Mehlman said he would not ascribe bad motives to them.

"I think that they care about the country, and they want the best for their country, too," the RNC chairman said. "But you have to look at this in the totality. The totality is, these are the same people who wanted to kill the Patriot Act, the same people that are against the NSA surveillance program, the same people that want to curb the interrogations of the enemy, the same people that have been against missile defense."

The Democrats claim going into Iraq was a divergence from the war on terror. But Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri don't see it that way, Mehlman said.

"They recognize it as a central front in the war on terror, and they said their goal is to use it to establish an Afghanistan sitting in between Iran and Syria, on the second largest oil reserves," Mehlman said. "They understand it would send the same message that was sent in Mogadishu and Beirut," where American forces withdrew after being attacked. "So while Democrats may be confused about Iraq's centrality to the war on terror, the enemy's not; and America's leaders should not be."

Mehlman said the enemy is not a country like Nazi Germany was, but an ideological movement empowered by technology.

"So on their point that Iraq was not responsible for 9/11, Nazi Germany was not responsible for Pearl Harbor; but President Roosevelt was smart enough to understand that we faced then an ideological enemy that was united by a common purpose of defeating freedom," Mehlman said. "And so if you believe that, then waiting for Germany to attack us wasn't smart. Instead, you wanted to take on the enemy on your terms, and your timetable, in their space. That's what we did in Iraq."

Mehlman said the question of why Democrats are opposed to measures to hunt down terrorists, to continued military support of Iraq, and to efforts to protect the country from a missile attack is not what matters.

"What matters is the effect of their policies," Mehlman said. "They would create a weaker America at a time when we're at war," he said. "Those issues will be absolutely critical in the November elections."

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WASHINGTON -- If congressional elections were held today, Republicans would hold their majority in the House and Senate, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said in an interview. Mehlman bases that conclusion on a recent meeting with his regional political...
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Friday, 01 September 2006 12:00 AM
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