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Greg Walden, Political Trash Talker

NRCC chief not buying Democratic optimism of possible House takeover

Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden, seen here at a National Press Club event in 2014, is upbeat about his party's chances of holding their House majority this November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden, seen here at a National Press Club event in 2014, is upbeat about his party's chances of holding their House majority this November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Hollywood ever remakes “Jerry Maguire” as a political campaign movie, expect Rep. Greg Walden to be cast in the Cuba Gooding Jr. role, yelling at the top of his lungs, “Show me the data!”

The Oregon Republican, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, isn’t impressed by recent bullish statements from Democrats that they have a shot at winning the House this year, buoyed by the unpopularity of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and favorable demographics and turnout.

At a National Press Club newsmaker event Thursday, Walden said he has seen no evidence that Trump is adversely affecting candidates down-ballot, and challenged Democrats to show their hand.

“Where’s the data? Show me the data,” he said.

[Democrats Aim to Reduce 30-Seat House Deficit With Help From Trump]

He went further when asked about the number of tough races his members are facing.

“My rebuttal to that is, show me the list,” Walden said, referring to claims of upward of 70 competitive House races.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has 38 Red to Blue candidates, although four of those candidates are Democrats looking to hold an open seat being vacated by one of their own. There are also nine Red to Blue Emerging candidates, one tier down from the top. They also have 11 of their own vulnerable incumbents in the DCCC’s Frontline program.

Nevertheless, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats have been talking up their odds of returning to the majority for the first time since early 2011.

[The Seats Democrats Must Win to Retake House]

Walden is having none of it.

“I would just draw your attention to each of the last election cycles, three election cycles. In 2010, on the day of the election, she said, ‘We’re on pace to retain the majority in the House of Representatives.’ That was the morning, I believe that was the morning, of 2010. They lost 63 seats. In 2012, she said it was in reach and very doable. They lost eight seats. We ended up with the second-biggest majority since World War II, coming off the biggest majority in 2010 since World War II. In 2013, she said, ‘We can win back the House.’ As you know, in 2014, we ended up with the biggest majority since 1928,” he said, virtually breathless. “Look, I know they have to market. I know they have to spin. I get all that. I just say, if they say 80 seats are in play, have them produce the list,” he added.

[NRCC Bracing for Lonely Defense of House Majority]

He even talked a little trash about individual candidates, essentially taunting some Democratic challengers, such as former Rep. Pete Gallego, who is looking to reclaim the south Texas seat he lost to Republican Will Hurd in 2014.

“He’s got a rap for being a little bit lazy,” Walden said. “And that’s not just me. That’s what I’ve picked up from people.”

Walden allowed there might be some close calls.

“Are we going to have some competitive races? Of course we are!”

[2 Months to Go: The 10 Most Vulnerable House Members]

Still, his posture is pretty sunny.

“I’m confident we will hold the majority,” he said.

So, win or lose, it looks like Walden, who is not expected to stick around for a third go-round heading up the NRCC, looks to go out swinging.

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