- The Washington Times - Monday, August 27, 2012

TAMPA, Fla. — Democrats expect to chip away at House Republicans’ 49-seat majority in November, but GOP leaders insisted Monday that they’ve seized the advantage for the second election cycle in a row and will pocket four to eight more seats.

Meeting with reporters at the Republican National Convention, House Speaker John A. Boehner and officials with the National Republican Congressional Committee predicted they’ll rebuff Democrats’ attempts to retake the House majority — and said their chances are even better now that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is on the GOP presidential ticket.

Brushing aside predictions by most political analysts, the NRCC’s top recruiter, Rep. Steve Scalise, said the party has rendered it virtually impossible for Democrats to achieve their “Drive to 25” campaign to retake the House majority.

“The fact that we’re talking about the possibility of having a net increase in Republican seats in the House today was unheard of just six months ago,” the Louisiana Republican said.

And Mr. Boehner said the GOP is poised to build on his party’s 63-seat gain during the 2010 congressional elections.

“My goal is to gain seats,” said the Ohio lawmaker, speaking to reporters at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. “We’re on the offense and I’m going to keep my team on offense all through the election.”

Best known for his work on budgets and Medicare reform, Mr. Ryan helped to propel Medicare to the top of the national discussion when he entered the race earlier this month. Republicans see that development as positive for them, seizing the chance to beat up Democrats in tight races all over the country by tying them to the Medicare cuts in President Obama’s health care law.

“The fact is, that we welcome this fight, we want this fight,” said NRCC Executive Director Guy Harrison. “The only party that has cut Medicare for current beneficiaries is Democrats and we look forward to talking about that in every single district.”

But congressional Democrats quickly shot back a response on Monday, telling Republicans to bring it on. They say they’re just as convinced that they can win the battle on Medicare, insisting that Mr. Ryan’s Medicare plan will increase health care costs for seniors.

“We really hope that the NRCC has convinced all Republican candidates and Republicans in Congress to run on their Medicare-ending budget that polls terribly, cost them special elections in Republican seats and even Republicans are running away from,” said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Republicans have been on defense since the day the Ryan budget was named as their ticket mate, and now are stuck explaining why they protected tax breaks for millionaires at the expense of Medicare from now until Election Day,” he said.

While the focus this week is on the presidential ticket, some of the party’s up-and-comers have been granted speaking slots during the three-day convention. Mia Love, the black Mormon running against Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, will speak Tuesday night, along with Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress.