Cantor Council to hold second event Wednesday

The newest GOP group aimed at re-energizing the troubled
party will hold a second event next week, but political observers say a
Republican comeback depends more on Democrats screwing up.

“For the out party to come back, the in party has to screw
up. That’s history,” said John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont
McKenna College.

“A lot of [the national political scene] is beyond their
control,” Pitney said.

{mosads}The National Council for New America, the group launched in
early May by House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), will host another event on
July 22, The Hill reported Thursday. On Friday, Cantor announced the event
would focus on healthcare and will feature Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Dave
Camp (R-Mich.).

Cantor is a rising star in the party, and his group is
intended to be a GOP think-tank that will help the party come up with the new
arguments and ideas to return to power.

But political observers are skeptical of what new ideas will
emerge. They also say it might not matter.

“Are there any new ideas in the Republican Party? I don’t
think so. Does it matter in the short term? Probably not,” said Charlie Cook,
editor of the Cook Political Report. “They’re going to succeed in the short
term by throwing rocks and by attacking.”

Cantor, for one, has earned headlines in recent days by
attacking the $787 billion stimulus package signed into law by Obama as a bust.

Republicans can probably learn from Democrats, who only
recently emerged from the wilderness. The unpopular war in Iraq and ethical
lapses by Republicans helped Democrats take back Congress, and later the White

Now that they’re in charge, Democrats have ownership of the
government. The GOP, meanwhile, isn’t in charge and therefore is under little
pressure to offer alternatives that will never be considered.

Instead, as President Obama and Congressional Democrats
pursue major healthcare reform on top of cap and trade legislation and the
economic stimulus plan, Republicans can attack.

But the GOP may have a long wait before Democrats and the
president plummet to earth. Polls have shown the American electorate is
skeptical about some of Obama’s plans, but voters still overwhelmingly trust
the president over Congressional Republicans to handle every issue from the
national deficit to health care reform to the economy and even the threat of

Meanwhile, Republicans face constant questions about who, if
anyone, leads the party; voters view Congressional Republican leaders
unfavorably, if they know them at all; and seemingly constant revelations about
affairs Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) had
undermine the party’s stated commitment to family values.

And all that comes before the hangover left over by
President Bush, who remains unpopular and who polls show still shoulders blame
for the recessed economy.

As Democratic approval ratings shrink, however slowly,
Cantor’s organization is putting itself in a political position to be able to
capitalize if Americans turn to the minority party for ideas.

“Our goal was to engage members of Congress in a dialogue,
and that dialogue is an ongoing process in which we look at the the problems of
the American people and figure out relevant conservative policies to address
those problems,” said Rob Collins, a Cantor spokesman.

Democrats, noting the group hasn’t been seen in more than
two months, argue Cantor is engaging in little more than a public relations stunt.

Still, the organization could help Cantor’s national
stature, and while they may have to wait for Democratic missteps, the GOP wants
to be in a position to pounce.

“We’re going to be addressing policies like healthcare, like
cap and trade, like tax hikes, that Democrats are pushing through Congress, and
working to develop policies that show the American people there are
alternatives to these big government, big spending, big borrowing programs,”
Collins said.

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