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February 12, 2016

House GOP August Plan: Hate on Washington

When House Republicans retreat to their districts for the August recess, they will each be armed with a detailed guide — an exceptionally detailed guide — on how to assure their already convinced constituents that Washington is broken.

The August House Republican Conference planning kit, titled “Fighting Washington for All Americans,” offers a rare glimpse into the constituent outreach efforts of the GOP. Those efforts, it turns out, are highly calculated, hashtag-heavy and rife with references to the video app Vine.

The best way to stay in Washington appears to be to deride Washington, and Republican leadership isn’t going to deviate from that familiar formula.

Of the many topics Republicans could delve into — the impending debt ceiling debate, immigration or, perhaps, the sequester — the 31-page GOP packet focuses on safer ground: Obamacare, jobs and the fierce hatred of all things Washington.

It includes a cookbook of events largely aimed at whacking the Obama administration and highlighting House Republicans’ efforts to fight it — while using social media every step of the way.

There’s an “Emergency Health Care Town Hall,” for starters, with detailed recipes on where to hold the event, how to promote it — tweet it, Vine it, Instagram it, Facebook it — and how to hold an “impromptu” media availability to “frame the key takeaways.”

Riva Litman, the spokeswoman for Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, said it is the job of the House Republican Conference to equip members with “the tools and resources they need to take our message to all corners of this country.”

“That’s why, in anticipation of the upcoming August recess, we’ve provided offices with a thorough and comprehensive planning kit — complete with suggested events, best practices and talking points,” Litman said. She noted that a second packet, complete with updated talking points, would be on its way to members soon.

The first kit offers variations on an old Washington favorite: bashing Washington.

“Washington is out of control,” warns a “sample op-ed” titled “Fighting Washington for You.”

Naturally, it’s not the specific member of Congress’ fault.

“But every day I serve in Congress, I work to fight Washington,” the theoretical House Republican declares in his or her theoretical op-ed.

The memo suggests the member use the op-ed to tout an event and promise attendees won’t get “another boring speech or more inside-the-beltway rhetoric.”

Members should also consider an op-ed about the tea party-IRS scandal and the “rampant overreach of power by the Obama administration — and what House Republicans are doing to combat it.”

Democrats, for their part, accuse the GOP of creating the very dysfunction it derides.

“As the saying goes, Republicans claim government doesn’t work, then they get elected and prove it,” a senior House Democratic leadership aide said. “With no record to go back home and sell, it’s no surprise that House Republicans will spend the summer regurgitating the same old anti-government rhetoric.”

While Republicans have a familiar rhetoric, leadership does suggest that members seek out diverse groups during the break with “Meetups” — forums to “ensure the Member is engaging with all demographics.”

“Potential groups to organize Meetups around include women, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans and millennials,” the kit explains.

As always, don’t forget to assign a staffer to live-tweet the event with photos, Vines and a consistent hashtag. The memo loves the budding Vine app, which has traditionally been used as a means for frat brothers to share their drunken misadventures in six-second bursts, not as a means for House Republicans to spread their limited-government message.

To get the conversation rolling in the right direction, the playbook suggests planting questions: “Prepare a few questions in advance in case the conversation slowly starts.”

“Invite at least 3-4 people with whom the member already has an established relationship,” the memo instructs. “This will strengthen the conversation and take it in a direction that is most beneficial to the member’s goal.”

A successful constituent relations operation, however, is not just about talking the Republican talk; it is about helping people.

The conference suggests that members offer that help in the form of a jobs fair — as long as members have the opportunity to speak at the fair a few times and can tour the event with the media.

“Target invitations to veterans and college students — two groups of people struggling to find jobs,” the memo tells Republicans.

But what is the August recess without the opportunity to better understand your constituents, to better understand their issues?

On the Energy and Agriculture Tour, members can go on an excursion to a farm or ranch. “Members in more urban districts can conduct a similar tour visiting greenhouses, nurseries or other agriculture-related businesses,” the August kit theorizes.

“Use social media to upload photos and videos when possible,” the social-media-obsessed playbook suggests. “Try to tweet at or between each stop.”

Other recommended “issue tours” include:

  • an Energy Production Facility Tour  — “wear a hard hat”
  • a Gas and Groceries Tour — “wear clothes in which you feel comfortable doing ‘hands-on’ work”
  • a Higher Education Tour — don’t forget to wear the school’s colors or team gear
  • a Hospital or Health Care Facility Tour — “utilize the new ‘Vine’ app” and “capture snippets of the tour for a 6-second video that encapsulates the experience”
  • a Main Street Tour #4Jobs — don’t “overstay” your welcome
  • a Red Tape Tour and Roundtable — “confirm the status of regulations at each local business and make sure they are discussing regulations that have actually been implemented, not ones that ‘they have heard of’”
  • a Senior Center Tour — be sure to identify the best time to visit with “built-in crowds”

The memo also suggests plenty of media time, including a “#CutWaste Drive Time Radio Tour,” an editorial board meeting and an “Obamacare Media Tour.”

And there’s also the “Emergency Town Hall: Stopping Government Abuse.”

But whatever you do, just don’t remind voters you are part of that government.

Emma Dumain contributed to this report.

  • stasis

    The GOP strategy is the political equivalent of suicide bombing. That tactic doesn’t win wars but does turn the public against the True Believers.

  • F. Lynx Pardinus

    What’s ironic is that in 1968, the Democrats were in disarray and infighting (primary exhibit: Chicago convention), and Nixon won the election for the Republicans on a message of “you may or may not like our plan, but at least we’re trying to govern like adults.”

  • Jamo

    This report is so bizarre. Can you please post a link to it, or find it as a PDF? As a veteran campaign worker, most of the directions of this report come off as comon sense.

  • repubcooks

    let them secede already so the country can get on with it’s business. give them the south(goodbye florida) and let them exist on the gun,religion,hatred,tourism and prison industries!

  • adapto1432


  • adapto1432

    With a straight face, the House GOP, which has done more to break Washington that any other Congress in history, will go home and whine about how broken Washington is, and then beg to be sent back to Washington so they can continue to break it even more, so that they can then return home and rail about how broken Washington is. Sweet sweet logic. If you are experiencing low blood pressure, please join us as we dissect this plan after the jump.

  • adapto1432

    How, exactly, will the GOP try to “blame Washington” for all the problems in the world, even though they themselves have the power to do something about it, and in fact, are likely causing many of the problems they are complaining about?

    The first kit offers variations on an old Washington favorite: bashing Washington.

    “Washington is out of control,” warns a “sample op-ed” titled “Fighting Washington for You.”

    Naturally, it’s not the specific member of Congress’ fault.

    Naturally. Of course it is not the fault of the GOP that Washington is out of control. After all, it was the GOP that caused the country to come to the brink of default, helped downgrade the country’s credit rating for the first time in history, and promises to hold the nation hostage unless it gets everything it wants, but it’s NOT their fault that there are problems in D.C. For crissakes, they have repealed Obamacare 8,563 times FOR FREEDOM. What more do you want?

  • adapto1432

    These guys are mostly running in safe districts that have been drawn by Republican legislatures. The thing they fear the most is the next wave of loons, the ones with more flags and screaming and drool than they have.

  • Zippy

    The sad part is- it’ll work.The rubes will send these clowns back to D.C. where they will continue to break government- rinse and repeat…

  • Westviking

    do they tell them to smile, too? and wear brown shoes?

  • Derp

    Don’t remind them that you are part of the GOP and the GOP is all by itself stopping any and all progress it can. They are threatening another government shutdown because for the 39th time they voted that they don’t like Obamacare. They will damage the economy, cause job losses, stock market will plunge and we could very easily be dumped into another recession because of their ‘fight for the American people’. They ARE Washington yet their constituents are so brain dead and brainwashed already that they probably don’t realize when they bash on Washington they are in fact talking about themselves.

  • wildrover4

    What about those crazy voters who actually want their government to function?

  • Carl Goss

    With any degree of luck, the town hall strategy will probably not work. Sooner or later, people in those town halls will start to wonder why, with GOP members spouting such an obvious hatred of the national government, GOP politicians decided to go into federal politics in the first place. I suspect a lot of attendees at these town halls will wind up booing the very politicians who put on the meeting.

  • leoluminary

    It’s the “Government Doesn’t Work” Tour with a side of “Elect us and we’ll prove it.”

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