- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 15, 2019

House Republicans are banking on President Trump to carry them to a House takeover in the 2020 elections, with their main strategy to zero in on the districts he carried by large margins in 2016.

At the House GOP retreat in Baltimore this weekend, the Republican leadership was confident the party is in a good position to retake the majority in a presidential year.

“The Republicans have never been more united,” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said at the opening press conference. “Look at the polling itself with this president. No president, not even Ronald Reagan, had as much support within the party as President Trump does.”

Last year’s election saw Democrats victorious after a blue wave elected dozens of members in conservative-leaning districts.

Now, Republicans are eyeing 31 of those new seats that the president won in 2016, 13 of which he held by a margin of six points or more, as a path to victory of their own in a presidential election year with Mr. Trump back on the ticket.

“I not only think President Trump is going to carry those 31, but much more,” Mr. McCarthy said.

Their optimism was boosted after two victories last week in North Carolina special elections gave Republicans two new congressmen — Dan Bishop and Greg Murphy.

The president praised their efforts to reach out to their communities and drive up enthusiasm, and promised to campaign for future races in 2020.

“I am going to stop at every community that I can. We are going to make a list of 50 or so,” Mr. Trump said. “I got a lot of energy that’s good.”

Addressing the conference Friday, Vice President Mike Pence gave the Republican lawmakers the task of spreading the president’s agenda as the 2020 election picks up steam.

“Now it’s time for us to tell our story,” he said. “The best is yet to come. We’ve got to put out that positive message.”

He urged them to remind voters of their past accomplishments, such as the 2017 tax cuts and increased funding for the military, while promoting Mr. Trump’s goals for the future, including implementing immigration reform, passing the USMCA trade deal, and establishing Space Force as a new branch of the military.

This kind of messaging is vital, the vice president said, as Democrats embrace increasingly liberal priorities.

“I think it’s not going to be enough for us just to win the next election. We gotta win the next generation,” he said.

Republicans also plan to argue that Democrats don’t have a record to run on, since they have spent all their time on investigations instead of legislation.

Mr. McCarthy called the Democrats’ mixed messaging on impeachment an “embarrassment” and said the emphasis they’ve put on investigating Mr. Trump will spell trouble for them in 2020.

“Tell me, how are Democrats going to go back and ask for reelection on what they have achieved?” He said. “All they have achieved is investigations that have gone nowhere.”

Meanwhile, Mr. McCarthy said, Republicans can contrast their agenda with Democrats socialist policies.

Mr. McCarthy gave a long list of issues his party plans running on, including pushing for stronger border laws and the continued high cost of health care.

Regarding health care, Republican leadership slammed Democrats for pushing Medicare for All, and vowed to refine their 2017 replacement for Obamacare and pursue solutions to issues such as surprise billing.

They also pushed back on what they see as ineffective, unrealistic environmental plans from Democrats, such as the push to put the U.S. back into the Paris Agreements and the Green New Deal.

Rather, Mr. McCarthy said Republicans would look to address the ocean’s plastic problem without banning straws and provide private companies with the incentives to clean the environment. He highlighted a bill from freshman Rep. Dan Crenshaw that would provide grants for companies to extract carbon dioxide from the air.

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