House Republicans and party donors gathered for dinner Tuesday night to raise campaign cash — and their spirits — ahead of the 2010 midterm elections in which they are competing as the minority party.
Aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the campaign arm of House Republicans that sponsored the dinner, said that about 1,200 people attended the event and that it raised more than $6 million. The NRCC is tasked with engineering GOP seat gains in next year’s elections, the midpoint of President Obama’s first term, after significant setbacks in the 2006 and 2008 elections.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was the dinner’s star attraction, exactly one month after he gave the Republican response to Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress.
Jindal drew sharp differences between the two parties on spending and tax policy — differences that he said had become blurred in the past five years. He contrasted Obama administration policies that he said amount to the “greatest expansion of government in our lifetime” with Republican proposals he said would help small businesses and taxpayers. He said GOP policies on health care, education and energy were superior to those promoted by majority Democrats.
Jindal exhorted Republicans to serve as a loyal and respectful opposition party that offers constructive alternatives to Obama administration policies — “not because we want the president to fail,” Jindal said, “but because we want America to succeed.”
“May the loyal opposition continue to speak out and stand up on principle,” said Jindal, who represented southeastern Louisiana in the House for three years prior to his election as governor in 2007.
Other speakers at Tuesday’s dinner included Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio, who criticized Obama’s budget proposals; NRCC chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, who said that “our goal is to win back 40 seats and reclaim the Speaker’s gavel for John Boehner in 2010”; and Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam, the dinner chairman who praised the NRCC and its donors for helping elect him in 2006 in a politically competitive district in suburbs west of Chicago.
The GOP leaders addressed the dinner not long before Obama planned to hold a news conference to defend his economic policies.
— Greg Giroux