Two prominent GOP Senators today called for a new Contract With America. They want a document similar to what was advocated by Newt Gingrich and House Republicans in 1994 that helped the party catapult to victory. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was a guest on Fox News Sunday while Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on Meet The Press. Both Senators are optimistic about GOP prospects in November, but they believe it is not sufficient to emphasize opposition to the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats. The original Contract With America described an initial legislative agenda for the Republican Party, and it committed the GOP to specific promises if they were allowed to become the majority party for the first time in 40 years.
The Senators are encouraging opposition to the liberal agenda and they said the Tea Party movement was a great addition to the GOP. However, they also emphasized the need for a positive Republican campaign which would tell the nation what the party advocates. The Senators are concerned that no unifying document will be issued by the GOP leadership, even though it has been under discussion for almost a year. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), the respective GOP leaders in the Senate and House, have often spoken of the need for a new contract, but now only 57 days remain before the election.
The Republican Leaders have been describing the new plan as a Commitment to America, but details are still secret and an announcement ceremony has not been planned. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) and his Freedom Works organization have their own Contract From America which has been signed by numerous GOP candidates. Many elements of the Armey contract appeal to a cross broad section of Republicans, but Senators McCain and Graham have reservations about the former Majority Leader’s foreign policy views which they consider isolationist.
Congress will go back in session on September 14th, which is almost the exact date on which Gingrich and House Republicans had their 1994 press conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. GOP candidates from around the nation were invited to join them and to sign the contract. Republican candidates this year are still waiting for an invitation to visit DC. Below are excerpts from the McCain and Graham interviews this morning:
WALLACE: I just want to get back to this idea, the contract. The House Republicans are talking about, I guess they’ll call it a Commitment to America. But Senate Republicans haven’t been talking about that. Are you saying Senate Republicans should come forward with their own affirmative agenda between now and the election?
McCAIN: I think the Senate and House Republicans should come forward with an agenda before the election. Yes. You know, as much as, as happy as we are about the outcome of the elections, when you look at the approval ratings of Republicans they’re just as bad as Democrats. We have to give them a reason to vote for us.
GREGORY: Do you think the Republicans have some work to do before they can really achieve majority status?
GRAHAM: Well, I think what we have to do is to come up with a uniting agenda, sort of a Contract with America, what would we do different on spending? . . . Going forward, we need toshow the American people that the Republican party can govern.