Interviews with The Freshman

Posted: Feb 02, 2007 11:01 AM

Three conservative freshmen Republicans are here in Baltimore: Tim Wahlberg (R-MI) (who beat Joe Schwartz in the primary), Michelle Bachman (R-MN) (who gained publicity after the SOTU -- when she touched Bush for an extended period), and Rep. Bill Sali (R-ID).

All three are members of the RSC.

(This is what our "Press" room looks like).

Earlier, Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) echoed what we've heard all morning, when he said: "We, as Republicans, clearly lost our fiscal brand."  Campbell also described Democrats who are pretending to be fiscal conservativs as a "fraud," adding, "Democrats are trying to say they are fiscal conservatives which is an absolute myth."

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) believes the Republican Study Group is uniquely positioned to inspire people across America to give Republicans a second chance.

But Rep. Sali disagreed with the theory that Republicans should worry about a brand, saying: "I'm not responsible for the Republican brand.  I'm responsible for me ..."  He described this sort of thinking as "group think."

Clearly, the incumbents are more worried about the idea of the Republican "brand."  Like Sali, the other two Freshmen seem to want to go out of their way to let us know their priority is not to revive the GOP brand.  Their priority is to their constituents and their political philosophy.

Special thanks to the Heritage Foundation for facilititing this blogger briefing.

UPDATE: 11:23

The Freshmen all seem to be stressing their "Independent" mindset.  They clearly want to contrast themselves a bit from the incumbents.

I had a chance to clarify the issue of "brand."  Rep. Sali went on to tell me that he believes in the Republican Platform and, "If we stick to that, we're okay."  Rep. Wahlberg went on to say that Ronald Reagan defined the Republican brand for him.  He said he is branded as a Ronald Reagan Republican, but making sure his party takes that brand is less of a priority to him.

UPDATE: 11:27

The Freshmen all said they probably value "new media."  My guess is they value it more than people who've been in Congress for years.  Rep. Michelle Bachman (who I learned has 23 foster children!) said, "The fact that we're present here shows how imprtant you (bloggers) are."  She added, "...You are that new method of communication."  She's a fan several MN blogs, including Little Green Footballs.  Bachman is very charming and well-spoken.  She appears very polished.

Rep. Wahlberg added, "I will not live without my blackberry."

UPDATE: 12:19

We're getting ready for Romney.  In the meantime, Rob Bluey has just posted his thoughts on the day (so far) over at RedState.