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GOP Plans to Stay on the Offensive During Recess

As Democrats use the first Congressional break of the year to talk jobs and the economy while painting Republicans as obstructionists, GOP Members will again be promoting an incremental approach to governing and a renewed invitation for bipartisanship.

“We’re going to be talking about a need to move forward and address health care, energy, security and the economy in a step-by-step manner that makes people on Main Street comfortable,” one GOP aide said of the messaging strategy for the Presidents Day recess.

Fresh off now-Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) stunning victory in Massachusetts, Republicans will urge Democrats to heed President Barack Obama’s call for bipartisanship and will criticize Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for shuttering the GOP out of talks on a jobs proposal this week.

“Republicans have 41 votes, so the Democrats are in the position now that they have two options: They can continue what they did all last year, which is craft their own bills with no Republican input and try to pick off one vote to get to 60. Or they can come to the table and reach consensus,” the aide said.

Still, Republicans will also criticize Obama, who over the recess is scheduled to appear at a campaign fundraiser in Las Vegas for Reid.

For months, Senate Republicans have repeated a message of taking a step-by-step approach to health care, climate change and the economy, rather than pushing a comprehensive approach favored by Obama and Congressional Democrats. That will continue this week when Republicans return to their respective states.

Republicans will also focus on homeland security, painting Obama’s decision not to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind, in New York City as a major GOP victory and will continue voicing opposition to closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

In the weekly Republican National Committee address Saturday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) ripped the Obama administration for its handling of the KSM trial and Guantánamo Bay, charging that each “was a major mistake in the war on terror.”

House Republicans were also planning to criticize the administration and Congressional Democrats on national security issues, pinpointing the KSM trial and the decision to read alleged Christmas day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab his Miranda rights as particularly dangerous strategies.

“The American people deserve a federal government that puts national security before party politics,” Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) wrote in a messaging memo. “This administration is doing the opposite.”

Like GOP Senators, the House Republican rank and file were encouraged to spend their district work period hammering Democrats on health care reform, jobs, spending and national security.

Pence recommended Republicans make a special effort to mark the one-year anniversary of the $787 billion stimulus bill on Feb. 17 and remind voters that it did not live up to its promise.

“When [Obama] signed the bill, unemployment was at 7.6 percent and he promised it would not go above 8 percent,” Pence wrote. “With unemployment now hovering around the 10 percent mark and millions looking for work, please consider inviting the press to an event in your district at a local business to talk about the need for Republican solutions that will get the economy moving again.”

Democrats have dismissed Republican criticism as hypocrisy since many GOPers have taken credit for projects included in the stimulus bill.

In addition to calling for Democrats to scrap their health care bills, Republicans were also advised to criticize Obama’s Feb. 25 bipartisan health care summit as ” the wrong topic at the wrong time”

“The American people want us focused on jobs and spending,” read the Pence memo, which also stressed the importance of dismissing Democratic calls that Republicans are the “party of no.”

“There are proposals that House Republicans and the president agree will help create jobs, like expanding off-shore drilling, increasing nuclear energy production, developing clean coal technologies, and enacting free trade agreements,” the memo said.

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