On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams said that he didn't think the Republicans are going to lose the House because "most people" aren't going to run on national issues. In fact, Williams was merely repeating what the Republican campaign strategy for 2006 will be but ignored the Democratic effort to capitalize on national issues in upcoming congressional races.
While discussing the 2006 congressional elections on the March 5 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, National Public Radio (NPR) senior correspondent and Fox News contributing political analyst Juan Williams declared: "I don't think [the Republicans are] going to lose the House, because I don't think most people are going to run on national issues." By "most people," Williams apparently meant "most Republicans," because he then added: "If you talk to Republicans and talk to Republicans in charge of these congressional races, they talk about localizing these elections." In accepting as fact the Republican assertion that the 2006 congressional elections will hinge on local issues, Williams ignored clear statements from Democrats that they will seek to frame the elections as a referendum on national issues.
Republican efforts to localize the elections are well documented. For example, a January 30 Roll Call article (subscription required) by David M. Drucker noted that the stated strategy of National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) consisted of emphasizing local issues in the upcoming congressional elections. The article also highlighted Reynolds's contention that Democrats will fail in their attempts at "nationalizing" the elections:
Just as he had last fall, during his previous briefing on the midterm elections, Reynolds stressed that Republicans would run individual races based on the unique local issues of each House district, while also promising a focused ground game complemented by the 72-Hour Program -- a get-out-the-vote effort run during the last three days of a campaign that has been extremely successful in getting GOP voters to the polls.
Reynolds has repeatedly said that Democrats' hopes of nationalizing the elections won't work, adding Friday that it especially won't work for them this year because they don't have the money to wage a national advertising war.
But Williams altogether ignored -- and dismissed -- the equally well-publicized Democratic effort to capitalize on national issues in the upcoming congressional races.
For example, an article by Silla Brush in the January 16 issue of U.S. News & World Report noted the Democrats' intention of framing the 2006 elections as a referendum on national issues:
Hoping to take advantage of Republicans' Washington troubles, Democrats see 2006 as a year in which national issues will be as important as local politics. A focus on national concerns may "bring in districts that don't look like they're in play, but all of a sudden in October, some safe Republican incumbent has trouble because we [Democrats] say we need to change Washington," says Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic strategist.
Believing they have Bush on the ropes, Democrats are planning to step up their bid to use national issues to win more House and Senate seats. The early focus is on high energy costs, health care expenses and the economy. To a lesser degree, they'll continue to highlight lobbying scandals and the campaign against the "Republican culture of corruption," said a party strategist.
From the March 5 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, which also featured Weekly Standard editor William Kristol:
WALLACE: Do you really think they might lose the House?
KRISTOL: Oh, yes. If this generic number holds up, Republicans will certainly lose the House.
WILLIAMS: Oh, come on. I'm sick of all this Bush bashing, Chris.
WALLACE: I can tell that you've had enough of that.
WILLIAMS: I'm tired of this. Let me just say this. First and foremost, I think that if you're thinking about how the president could react to this, you've got to see a president who's saying wait a second, you know, I'm going to be steadfast on the Dubai ports deal, I've got to handle national security issues and relationships with the Arab world.
Americans understand it, but I don't think it's come home, and I think a lot of the fear-mongering that Republicans have been engaged in in the past to exploit the terror issue is now coming back to bite them. I think that's part of it.
But secondly, I don't think they're going to lose the House, because I don't think that most people are going to run on national issues. And you talk to Republicans and talk to Republicans in charge of these congressional races, they talk about localizing these elections.
And here's the big point: Democrats don't have some alternative strategy on Iraq that says, oh, this is how we should deal with Iraq, this is an exit strategy, this is the way we should deal -- the Democrats are vacuous on this point.