House GOP Recess Plan: Say We’re ‘Fighting Washington’

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As Congress prepares to head home for a six-week recess in August, leaders of the House Republican majority are offering their members advice on how to address constituents.

“During August, I encourage you to echo this message and reaffirm our theme — “Fighting Washington for You” — in all that you do, for there is no better message than one that puts the American people before an out-of-control government,” reads a 31-page planning kit provided by House GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) to members. Details of the kit were first reported by Roll Call on Monday.

The theme is apparent throughout the kit, which includes tips on how to use events, town halls, speeches and social media to promote this message. It advises Republicans to paint themselves as crusaders for reform in a broken, out-of-control Washington.“Washington is out of control,” reads a sample op-ed that leadership suggests members write for their local papers. “But every day I serve in Congress, I work to fight Washington. … I’m fighting Washington for you.”

The guide puts a premium on bashing Obamacare and discussing the havoc it will wreak on the country. And it mentions other issues, too.

“We’re working to dismantle ObamaCare and make America energy independent. We’re working to cut wasteful spending, expand educational opportunities, and rein in red tape. We’re fighting to fix Washington,” it reads.

Remarkably, the packet includes virtually no discussion of immigration reform — a major issue pending before the House after comprehensive legislation passed the Senate. The one and only mention of it comes as an aside under messaging themes, alongside jobs and the economy: “Reforming Immigration and Border Security.” By contrast, health care and jobs get dozens of mentions. The lack of any messaging guidance on immigration illustrates the political difficulty of the issue for the GOP, forcing them to choose between their base and the fast-growing demographic of Hispanic voters.

The document also instructs members to make the most of social media.

“Post photographs and videos on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine during the tour,” it reads. The packet includes 17 mentions of Vine — a relatively new social media tool that allows users to share short video clips.

A House Democratic leadership aide retorted, “As Speaker Boehner has said, the Republican Congress should be judged ‘on how many laws we repeal.’ Nothing is their agenda, never is their timetable. That’s one hard record to go home and sell to your constituents.”

House GOP Recess Packet: Fighting Washington for All Americans

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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