WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans will take a carefully orchestrated, staunchly anti-Washington campaign to voters this month, blaming President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats for Americans' unhappiness with government.
"Every day I serve in Congress, I work to fight Washington," says a suggested op-ed in a richly detailed "planning kit" distributed to all 234 House Republicans ahead of the August recess.
Running against Washington is an old strategy. Ronald Reagan summarized it only minutes after being sworn in as president in January 1981. "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem," he told the country. "Government is the problem."
Even if there's little new about the tactic, it requires some finesse, or selective forgetfulness, by Republican incumbents seeking re-election to a House that their party controls. "Part II" of the House Republican Conference's August planning kit focuses on the GOP's accomplishments, aides said.
Republican officials say it's not hypocritical to attack Washington while also promoting achievements in the capital.
"We have control of only one-half of one-third of the federal government," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, referring to the White House, the judiciary and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The nation's capital, Steel said, "is still very much a Democrat-run town."
Boehner rejects accusations that he oversees a "do-nothing" House, even though its differences with the Senate and president over the federal budget, a farm bill, immigration and other big issues are yet to be resolved.
"We should not be judged by how many new laws we create," Boehner said recently on CBS's "Face the Nation." ''We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal."
That philosophy helps shape the House GOP's 31-page "Fighting Washington for All Americans" advisory kit. Much of it, however, is simply a primer on getting good publicity.
Leaders of both parties typically offer "talking points" to lawmakers heading into congressional recesses, when they mingle with constituent groups back home. The GOP's colorful document, first reported by Roll Call, is full of ideas for promoting and conducting such events.
"Make sure to use a camera on a tripod" for a "YouTube Live Roundtable," it says. Also, "wear a hard hat" and "post a creative Vine video" after visiting a local energy-production plant.
When touring a college, the kit advises, "take a photo outside of the stadium, arena, or famous spot on campus wearing the school's colors or team gear to promote on social media."
The kit suggests ways to attract, limit or ban news reporters. "Invite select local press," to a college visit, it says, but invite "all local media" to a hospital tour.
A House member's meeting with health care providers "should be closed press," the kit says. A public meeting about health care, however, "should be 100 percent open to the press." The focus should be "the negative effects of ObamaCare and the House Republican plan to dismantle it," the document says.
Finally, it adds: "Make sure there is room for cameras in the back."
GOP planning kit: http://tinyurl.com/l2y58v4
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