Republicans have not capitalized on President Trump's well received State of the Union address, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich complained during his speech at the RNC Winter Meeting, an excerpt of which was shared on FoxNews.com this weekend.
Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) offered the Democratic response from Fall River, Massachusetts. While he faced plenty of criticism and mockery for applying too much lip balm and giving the speech in front of a wrecked car, Gingrich said the GOP wasted an opportunity to confront the young Democrat about his "no" vote on tax reform.
As soon as Kennedy finished his speech, Republicans should have been on social media pointing out that an average family in his district benefitted from a $5,800 tax cut thanks to GOP tax reform, Gingrich told the party.
We should have been asking Kennedy, “How could you vote against tax cuts and job creation? The Ways and Means Committee has analyzed every congressional district in the country. You can go to the Ways and Means Committee website for your district. In Kennedy’s district a median-income family of four got a $5,800 tax cut. Now we should be all over him. How can he vote to take $5,800 away from a family of four in his district to send it to Washington bureaucrats? We should have used every social media tool so people watching his response were waiting for him to answer for his vote. (Fox News)
But, the Republicans did not have these questions at the ready because "we are not tough enough, we’re not fast enough, we don’t think aggressively enough," Gingrich said.
Go into local communities and explain how Democrats voted against these tax cuts, and perhaps remind them that they remained seated at the State of the Union when the president touted the improving economy, the former speaker implored his fellow Republicans. For instance, why did the Congressional Black Caucus not budge when Trump mentioned that black unemployment was at its lowest in history?
One more bit of advice Gingrich offered at the winter meeting: enough of the media criticism. By now, they should know the press is not on their side. Instead of complaining about it, be prepared when you do TV appearances. The former speaker said he is frustrated they have too many "slow, untrained" surrogates representing the party.
Don't let the left drown out your arguments for immigration reform, etc., with cries of "racism."
"We have to go nose-to-nose with them to knock them down mentally and psychologically," he said.
This strategy worked for Gingrich and the party in the early 1990s, he reminded them.
It's imperative that the party maintain this mindset if they are going to keep its House majority.