WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans hope to use the Obama administration's leftward take in the early days of the president's second term to their advantage, looking to use unease with liberal policies in Southern and Western states as a path to electoral victory in 2014.
Following November's election, Obama and his team are clearly feeling energized and have vowed to use the president's political capital to pursue immigration reform, gun control and an economic plan that includes new revenues.
In a memo circulated Wednesday morning to Senate Republicans, National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jerry Moran laid out his strategy for using that against Senate Democrats, insisting they're already worrying about it's implications for the 2014 cycle.
"Less-noticed – but more important – has been the reaction from Democratic Senators facing re-election next year to the President's liberal push. That's because silence often goes unnoticed. In this case, the silence should be deafening," Moran says in the memo.
"The reality is while President Obama and his team burns the political capital … he is lighting an inferno under the electoral prospects for a number Democratic Senate candidates in 2014," Moran goes on to say, arguing that "As the President and Democratic leaders in Congress double-down on their demands for higher taxes to finance even more out of control spending Republicans welcome and look forward to that debate in states like Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Dakota, Arkansas, Alaska, and many others."
The memo outlines a number of areas in these states in which Republicans hope to capitalize, ranging from oil workers in Louisiana and Alaska to military voters in North Carolina and Virginia.
Moran makes clear that the NRSC plans to cast the coming election as a choice between Obama's liberal policies and "the people who elected you, who rely on you to represent them in Washington … the answer cannot be both."
NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring said the memo is part of Moran's to stay on offense against Democrats in the coming two years.
Every step left that President Obama and [Sen.] Chuck Schumer take forces a vulnerable Senate Democrat like [Sens.] Max Baucus, Kay Hagan, Mark Begich or Mary Landrieu into an untenable situation," Dayspring said, adding that "Chairman Moran believes in going on - and staying on - offense."
Text of the memo is below:
To: Interested Parties
From: U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, NRSC Chairman
Date: February 12, 2013
Re: Cementing a Liberal Legacy While Ignoring 2014
In recent weeks, President Obama and his team have made no secret of the fact that the Inaugural Address and the State of the Union is a two-step process to outline an aggressively liberal and partisan agenda for their second term.
Spin and poll-tested language from the Democrats aside, their agenda is, in large part, focused on three key pillars -- higher taxes for more spending, more government regulation of our lives, and refusal to modernize 20th Century entitlement programs. If Democrats spent money wisely, if government had all the answers, or if our sacred entitlements weren't on the path to bankrupting our country, their agenda might make more sense. If only.
As Politico reported yesterday, the President "needs to burn political capital — and keep the GOP on the defensive — to force the opposition into accepting more taxes and fewer budget cuts.…" The story goes on to note that sources deep inside the White House are incredulously describing tonight's speech with a 2,500 year-old quote from ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu: "Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across."
Naturally, this arrogant chest-beating from the Obama White House has been met with applause from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party (which today encompasses, unfortunately, much of it). The tone reminds me of the very same rhetoric we heard from President Obama, and Democrat Leaders as they rammed their stimulus and health care bills through Congress and into law – leading to their party's historic midterm losses in 2010.
Less-noticed – but more important – has been the reaction from Democratic Senators facing re-election next year to the President's liberal push. That's because silence often goes unnoticed. In this case, the silence should be deafening.
The reality is while President Obama and his team burns the political capital that he believes was earned last November, he is lighting an inferno under the electoral prospects for a number Democratic Senate candidates in 2014.
Our team is ready to capitalize. As the President and Democratic leaders in Congress double-down on their demands for higher taxes to finance even more out of control spending Republicans welcome and look forward to that debate in states like Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Dakota, Arkansas, Alaska, and many others.
There are quite a few workers in the energy field in Louisiana and Alaska, for example. These men and women and their families will have a clear choice between a Republican Senator who will serve as a check on the President's increasingly liberal agenda, versus a longtime Democratic incumbent who helped vote him into office and actively supports this outside-the-mainstream push.
Military families and those who rely on the defense industry in states like North Carolina and Virginia should ask their Democratic Senators why they're focused on raising taxes for more wasteful spending instead of coming up with a plan to stop the President's sequester plan and protect their jobs.
Restaurant owners, farmers, and other workers in Montana and Arkansas are right to ask their Democratic Senators why our debt has skyrocketed as job growth has remained anemic since they've been running Washington.
The list goes on and on…. These are the issues that affect people's lives. They are real, not just some esoteric budget debate in Washington. That is why these are the types of questions that will allow us to stay on offense.
Gordon Gecko was big on quoting "The Art of War." Look at where it got him. We will thus leave the chest-beating and ancient Chinese military quotes to the President and his advisors. The upcoming political debate isn't just about Democrats versus Republicans; it's about a President who is far more concerned about burnishing his legacy in the liberal movement than with fixing real world problems.
Democrat Senate candidates in many of these key 2014 battleground states face a real dilemma. Do you stand with a President growing more liberal with each passing day? Or do you stand with the people who elected you, who rely on you to represent them in Washington? The answer cannot be both.
But don't take my word for it, please ask each of them for their specific reactions to the liberal agenda that President Obama plans to lay out tonight. Their answers will be revealing.
John Stanton is a senior national correspondent for BuzzFeed News. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
Contact John Stanton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.