Washington Bureau intern Will Schultz filed this quick report from the Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning with House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO):
– Energy, energy, energy. It looks like Republicans are going to be all about it this year. Blunt said opinion on drilling “has completely flipped,” and that the GOP has got the upper hand on this issue. “Energy” is going to be a convenient surrogate for “the economy”—it gives GOP candidates a chance to connect with the average voter.
– President Bush can still be a potent weapon for the GOP. True, his numbers are in the toilet just about everywhere. But there are some right-leaning districts where he might actually help the Republican. Blunt pointed to Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia as one Democrat whose Republican challenger has already gotten a visit from W.
– As you would expect, he praised McCain as the only Republican capable of winning in 2008. But when asked about McCain’s strategy, he looked a little uncomfortable. “He…[is] uniquely organized. It just seems different to me.” Not exactly a vote of confidence. And he also called the old strategy of 10 regional offices flat-out wrong.
– On the Housing bill: “every member decided where they needed to be.” That’s a pretty remarkable statement coming from a guy whose job is to make sure everyone votes the party line.
– Missouri? Oh, it’s locked up for McCain, Blunt claimed, despite polls suggesting quite the opposite. How could Blunt be so sure? Because “the tested guy is always going to beat the untested guy.” He also said that Obama’s a “bad closer.”
– Blunt was asked about the GOP’s prospects in House races this fall—specifically, how many seats he thought they’d lose. His response? “I think we’re going to beat expectations.” Cue incredulous laughter from the press.
As I was leaving the hotel I found myself walking behind Mort Kondracke. He was talking on a cellphone, and I couldn’t help but overhear his take on the breakfast: “Roy is good. He can sell spoiled spaghetti better than anybody I’ve ever met.”