Barbour Embraces “Party Of No” Label

In an interview with National Journal, Barbour warned fellow Republicans not to fall into a trap that they managed to avoid in 1994: turning the midterm election into a choice between parties rather than a referendum on the party in control. “The idea that just being against bad policy will end up as bad politics is wrong,” Barbour said. “When the American people know an administration is trying to cram bad policy down their throat, they want somebody to stop it. And Republicans have worked very hard and had some success” in derailing Democratic legislation.

In response to Democrats’ “Party of No” charges, House GOP Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia has said that Republicans will follow an 80-20 strategy, attacking 80 percent of the time and offering their own policy prescriptions the remaining 20 percent. House GOP leaders have asked Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California to draft an updated Contract With America.

Barbour argues, though, that if Republicans release a national agenda early this year, they will just give Democrats something to attack. In 1994, the year the GOP seized the House and the Senate, House Republicans did not unveil the original Contract With America until autumn.

The contract’s role is often exaggerated. House candidates who signed on merely pledged that if their party won control of the chamber, it would schedule votes on certain conservative priorities, including congressional term limits, a balanced-budget amendment, and cuts to 95 federal programs. Most voters paid no attention to the Republicans’ plan, Barbour said.

Check out more from the story, profiling the man at the nexus of both ’94 (when he was RNC chair) and ’10 (when he chairs the RGA), at NationalJournal.com.

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2/11/10