Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker asserted that Republicans "responded" to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's speech before the vote on the financial bailout plan "by voting against the bill," even after House Minority Whip Roy Blunt backed off a claim that a dozen Republicans who might have supported the bill were alienated by Pelosi's speech and several Republicans denied that Pelosi's speech swayed any votes.
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In an October 1 column, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker asserted that "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a partisan speech, blaming the credit crisis on the Bush administration. ... Republicans responded by voting against" the financial bailout bill. Parker did not name any Republicans who changed their vote because of Pelosi's speech, and House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), after accusing Pelosi at a press conference of alienating a dozen Republicans who might have supported the bill, later backed off his claim. In a clip that aired on the September 29 edition of ABC's Nightline, Blunt said that Pelosi's speech may have cost one or two votes: "We clearly had some members that were there but were precariously there. And one or two [votes] may have been affected by the speaker's speech." Moreover, several Republicans denied that Pelosi's speech swayed any votes.
Sixty-five Republicans and 140 Democrats ultimately voted for the bill -- 12 votes short of the number needed for passage.
Additionally, ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper reported in his blog, Political Punch, that Blunt also said, "That one speech was not helpful, but I think you don't want to give too much blame to that speech."
Further, The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reported September 30 that, while Republican leaders "initially blamed Pelosi," they "backed away within hours, conceding they never had the votes they had promised." Another September 30 front-page Post article said: "Republicans initially lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), accusing her of delivering a partisan speech before the vote and costing them a dozen votes. But later, in interviews after tempers cooled, GOP leaders said they had been fighting an uphill battle from the start -- too many conservatives rejected the idea of a large, taxpayer-funded intervention, and too many moderates came from swing districts where constituents were up in arms over the bailout."
As Media Matters for America has noted, since the vote, several Republicans, including Rep. Darrell Issa (CA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), and Rep. John Shadegg (AZ), dismissed the notion that Republicans voted "no" because of Pelosi's speech. Issa told Politico's blog The Crypt "that the idea that her speech shifted votes is 'nonsense.' " Shadegg said: "I don't know a single person who changed their vote on the basis of that, or would've." Furthermore, Fox News senior House producer Chad Pergram reported nearly an hour before Pelosi's speech that he was "hearing from the Republican side of the aisle, they may only have 40 to 60 of their members" supporting the bill, a number that Pergram noted, "leaves us very short there."
From the September 29 edition of ABC's Nightline:
TAPPER: At 2:07, Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher of California gaveled the bill dead. A nail in its coffin. Sixty percent of the Democrats voted for the bill. Sixty-six percent of the Republicans voted against it. Only 65 Republicans came on board, short of their goal of 80. What went wrong? Republicans immediately blamed House Speaker Pelosi's partisan speech for chasing away a dozen Republicans.
REP. ERIC CANTOR [R-VA]: Right here is the reason, I believe, why this vote failed. And this is Speaker Nancy Pelosi's speech that, frankly, struck the tone of partisanship that, frankly, was inappropriate in this discussion.
TAPPER: That excuse seemed laughable to Democrats, who pointed out that the Republicans never had the votes.
REP. BARNEY FRANK [D-MA]: Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country. I mean, that's hardly plausible. And there were 12 Republican members who were ready to stand up for the economic interests of America, but not if anybody insulted them. I'll make -- I'll make an offer. Give me those 12 people's names, and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them.
TAPPER: And in an interview with Nightline, House Minority Whip Roy Blunt backed off the assertion.
REP. ROY BLUNT [R-MO]: We clearly had some members that were there but were precariously there. And one or two of them may have been affected by the speaker's speech.
From Parker's October 1 column:
That we have become a partisan nation is no secret. This week has provided a vivid example of where rabid partisanship leads with the failure of Congress to pass a bailout bill vitally needed to keep our economy from unraveling.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave a partisan speech, blaming the credit crisis on the Bush administration (omitting the Clinton administration's role in launching the subprime lending debacle). Republicans responded by voting against the bill.
Everyone's to blame, by the way.