March 26, 2002


GOP Targets Democratic Rift (Ethan Wallison and Susan Crabtree, March 25, 2002, Roll Call)
"There is a multitiered conflict going on among national Democrat leaders. No one leader speaks for the party, and confusion has never been greater," Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts (Okla.) wrote in a memo distributed to GOP colleagues before they left for the spring recess last week.

The strategy memo, also sent from Watts' American Renewal PAC, suggested that Democratic leaders in both chambers were no longer thinking in terms of 2002 but about 2004 and the impact of presidential politics. Leadership term limits and the likelihood that Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) will run for president have given rise to a spate of leadership contests, each with its own subplots and distractions.

"I didn't think anybody could be as good at fighting with themselves as Republicans are," Watts said in an interview Friday. "They are about to take our crown."

A Republican leadership that once found itself beset with rivalries and saddled with a sinking economy is now seeing the reverse image of its former self in the Democrats, who face an array of leadership contests and a brightening economic picture, which has undermined their message. Although the GOP has its own leadership holes to fill, those contests are all but wrapped up.

So Gephardt is running for President if the Dems don't take the House. That sets off a fight for his job and for the whole series of jobs lower on the totem pole. Meanwhile, Daschle is an inevitable presidential candidate, which sets him in effective opposition to Gephardt and triggers the same rivalries behind him in the Democratic Senate leadership. This could be the most fun we Republicans have had since the Battle of Stalingrad. Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2002 10:21 PM
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