For months, congressional Republicans have refused to put forward a detailed policy agenda for this fall’s midterm elections, preferring instead to focus on their opposition to the Obama administration. Some in the House have dusted off former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s tarnished legacy and are advocating the creation of a new “Contract with America.” The contract gimmick helped propel Gingrich and his party to huge wins in 1994, and House GOP leaders are trying to make the same play again.
But two leading Republican senators this morning urged their leadership to come out with an agenda. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), appearing on Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press respectively, each floated the idea of a new Contract with America, in a seemingly coordinated message:
WALLACE: I just want to get back to this idea, the contract. The House Republicans are talking about, I guess they’ll call it a Commitment to America. But Senate Republicans haven’t been talking about that. Are you saying Senate Republicans should come forward with their own affirmative agenda between now and the election?
McCAIN: I think the Senate and House Republicans should come forward with an agenda before the election. Yes. You know, as much as, as happy as we are about the outcome of the elections, when you look at the approval ratings of Republicans they’re just as bad as Democrats. We have to give them a reason to vote for us.
GREGORY: Do you think the Republicans have some work to do before they can really achieve majority status?
GRAHAM: Well, I think what we have to do is to come up with a uniting agenda, sort of a Contract with America, what would we do different on spending? … Going forward, [we need to] show the American people that the Republican party can govern.
Watch a compilation:
Both Graham and McCain also praised tea party activists as a vital component of the GOP’s new base. McCain said, “Tea-partiers are a great addition,” adding with considerable understatement: “We’re going to have a broad array of different views in our Republican conference, and I think it might be more interesting than any I’ve been in in a long time.”