The PJ Tatler

House GOP Meeting to Weigh Being 'More Aggressive Rhetorically' to Be 'Perceived as Fighting'

House Republicans will be meeting behind closed doors today for what’s supposed to be a frank, air-your-mind session about the future of the caucus.

The member who proposed the meeting, Rep. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.), told Fox last night that he sees the caucus as “damaged” but “fixable.”

“The idea of not moving and reflecting on the stepping down of Speaker John Boehner and moving headlong into a leadership election is a mistake,” Roskam said. “What we’ve got to do instead is reflect on this. And think what do we need to do to change and move forward. I think that there is some things to do. But one of the reasons that I called for a special closed meeting was to sort of pump the brakes on this all the way around.”

Roskam said he expects to hear all sorts of suggestions today, but he has some of his own, too.

“The House GOP needs to be more aggressive rhetorically against the administration. In other words, you’ve got to take the fight to the administration,” the congressman said. “And if you are perceived as fighting, then the political base says, you know what, I think, you look at the world the way I look at the world and I’m willing to listen to you when you are telling me what the next steps are. Part of our problem is that the House Republicans have been perceived as presuming we are going to lose and then reverse engineering from that loss. And I think people are tired of that.”

Next, Roskam said, Republicans must “unite around the definition of success.”

“Right now, there is a wide range of definitions within among House Republicans, what does success mean? What does it look like? Some people say only thing that’s successful is if you enact laws. Other people say, well, winning the debate, like Margaret Thatcher used to say before winning the vote, that’s success. Other people say this is a prelude to the 2016 campaign and let’s help our nominees,” he said. “We’ve got to have a shared understanding of what success needs to be.”

During this evening’s meeting, Roskam plans to “make an appeal that says we need to go on offense against the administration in a number of areas.”

“The administration has us on defense. Let’s put them on defense. And I’m going to suggest we start with Iran. The administration has made a massive mistake. Let’s hold them to account. I’ve got some ideas I’m going to share with my colleagues on that,” he said. “But my bottom line is be forward leaning into these fights. And if we do, then I think we create goodwill and a level of trust where if you go back to the political base and say these are subsequent steps we need to make, they can hear what you are saying.”

Roskam lost a leadership election last year for the post now held by Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), but hasn’t indicated if he’ll be running for something this time around.

“There is nothing to run for until we change the disposition of the House Republicans,” he said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) officially announced his candidacy for the speakership yesterday, tweeting, “I am running for Speaker to work with my colleagues and make the case to the American people for conservative principles.”

The only challenge he faces thus far is from Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), who unsuccessfully challenged Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier this year and received the support of 11 colleagues. Webster is not well known on and off Capitol Hill, where he sits on one House committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure panel. The House Freedom Caucus has not said if it will officially back Webster or offer another candidate.

The race for majority leader is shaping up to be much more contentious, with Scalise and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) already splitting support for the job. Some are also trying to encourage Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) to run.