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Pence: GOP Is Rebuilding by Pushing Back

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) argued Sunday that Republicans’ opposition to the Obama administration’s economic and health care reform plans has helped revive the Republican party.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,— Pence said the GOP has been successful in rebuilding its tattered image by being the party of fiscal restraint, and he argued that the public is beginning to turn back toward Republicans.

“We are starting to earn back the confidence of the American people … I believe we’re getting a second look from the American people and we’re returning to the values— that brought the GOP to power in 1980 and 1994, Pence said.

Invoking the language of the 1994 Republican revolution, Pence argued that the GOP’s rise is tied to a broader fight over the direction of the country. “I don’t think the debate in this country is about President Obama or the Democrats or the Republicans. It’s about who we are as a people.—

Pence, who said he has no plans “right now— to run for president, also acknowledged that the August recess will play a key role in the outcome of the health care fight. Pence called the break “enormously important.—

Meanwhile, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) earlier in the show said that while he believes the latest Blue Dogs deal on health care reform will end up raising the cost of insurance, he remains open to all reform proposals at this point.

“I for one am not prepared to reject anything,— Rangel said.

On the controversial “cash for clunkers— program, Republicans continued to criticize a plan by Democrats to quickly push through a $2 billion infusion of federal funds into the program.

“My children and grandchildren are going to have to pay for this … it’s not the role of the federal government to run a used-car dealership,— Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said on Fox News Sunday.

But while DeMint said he would join Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) in opposing the cash for clunkers deal, he refused to commit to an attempt to filibuster the legislation.

McCain, meanwhile, in a wide-ranging interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,— said Obama had failed in his bid to be a bipartisan president.

President Barack Obama, he said, might have “picked off two or three Republicans, but that’s not changing the climate,— McCain said. “I respect their successes, but please don’t call it changing the climate.—

Turning to health care reform, McCain said he had not seen a public insurance option that he could support. He added that a coop idea suggested by several Members “reminds us all of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.—

“I have not seen a public option that in my view meets the test of [something that] would really not lead to a government takeover,— McCain said.

McCain demurred when asked whether he planned to vote this week to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.

“I’m still going back and forth,— said McCain, who voted against her confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. “I’m really still kind of undecided,— he said, although he called her “no doubt, a great American success story.—

Asked to comment on his vice presidential running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who resigned last month after completing just over half of her four-year gubernatorial term, McCain said he respected the decision.

“Everyone makes decisions that are best for themselves and their families. I respect Sarah Palin … and I think she will continue to play a major role in the Republican Party.—