Setting his sights on the 2022 midterm elections, former President Donald Trump has begun crafting a policy agenda that echoes a historic Republican election victory under a Democratic president, the “Contract with America” in 1994. Trump has also brought in the man responsible for the 1994 midterm victories, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
In recent weeks, Trump has sat down with Gingrich, Mark Meadows (his former chief of staff and a former Republican congressman), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) at Mar-a-Lago to begin crafting a document to spearhead 2022 Republican victories just as the Contract with America helped propel Republicans to majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Politico reported.
Gingrich told Politico that the 2022 “Contract with America” will not likely debut soon, but he did list many potential priorities for the document.
“It should be positive,” Gingrich said. “School choice, teaching American history for real, abolishing the ‘1619 Project,’ eliminating critical race theory and what the Texas legislature is doing. We should say, ‘Bring it on.'”
Political observers credited the original “Contract with America” with propelling the GOP to historic election victories in 1994. Before that election, Democrats had firm majorities in the House (256 Democrats to 176 Republicans) and Senate (57 Democrats to 43 Republicans). After that election, Republicans dominated the House (230 Republicans to 197 Democrats) and Senate (53 Republicans to 47 Democrats). The 1994 midterms gave Republicans a whopping 52 seats in the House and 9 seats in the Senate.
Republicans have used the “Contract with America” in other elections since. In 2010, the so-called Republican “Young Guns,” led by Reps. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), introduced an updated Contract with America before the 2010 Republican wave. Graham, who signed the contract in his 1994 House race, has advocated for Republicans to adopt contract-style declarations to unify the party.
Trump’s decision to return to the 1994 playbook will likely help the GOP gear up for key races in 2022. President Joe Biden has already presided over growing inflation, persistent unemployment, high gas prices, a historic border crisis, and war in the Middle East, much of which has been his own doing. The 2020 census will also give Republicans a slight edge in the 2022 midterms.
If the GOP wins big next year in an echo of 1994, Biden seems unlikely to follow Bill Clinton’s lead by moving to the center and working with the Republican Congress. Expect an Obama-style retrenchment and more “pen-and-phone” tactics.