By Jonathan Allen - 11/22/05 12:00 AM EST
Karl Rove sat down separately with several House Republicans Thursday to discuss party policy goals for 2006, a pivotal midterm election year.
Rove, the president’s deputy chief of staff, met with Reps. John Boehner and Deborah Pryce, both of Ohio, Rep. Peter King of New York and others at a series of White House sessions. Rep Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) was one of the other lawmakers, according to a House Republican leadership aide.
Members of the president’s lobbying shop, including Candida Wolff, the top administration lobbyist on Capitol Hill, were also present, lawmakers said.
“We just talked about the agenda for next year … what issues are important in my district,” said Pryce, whose session included King because of a scheduling backlog.
Pryce ticked off the economy, affordable healthcare and the “war on terror” as topics she discussed with Rove, the president’s chief political adviser.
“My suggestions were very different from Peter King’s,” Pryce said. “[Rove’s] job is to sift through that.”
Lawmakers who attended said they did not discuss House leadership politics with Rove, who was seen as a central figure in deposing Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) as majority leader and replacing him with Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) late in 2002.
Pryce chairs the Republican Conference, the fourth-ranking post in the GOP hierarchy. Since Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was forced to step aside as majority leader in the wake of an indictment, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), has been serving as majority whip and interim majority leader. Some Republican lawmakers have been calling for a mid-Congress round of conference elections as a way to stabilize the leadership team.
Boehner, a former conference chairman and longtime DeLay adversary in leadership battles, is often mentioned as a possible candidate for majority leader.
“It was just straight issues and agenda,” Pryce said of her meeting.
House Republican Conference spokesman Sean Spicer said it is not unusual for the White House to discuss the “lay of the land” with lawmakers, including Pryce.
“Her job is to be the chief messenger for the House Republicans,” he said.
Administration officials will get another chance to talk to Pryce and other House and Senate Republican leaders at a joint House and Senate GOP leadership and White House retreat in St. Michaels, Md., next week, Spicer said.