The Republican faithful may be up in arms about a budget deal championed by Paul Ryan that passed the Senate yesterday, but they should be grateful. The deal is a political masterstroke that will set up the GOP for victory next November. It also shows that Mr. Ryan is smarter and more strategic than many of his fellow conservatives.
In an ideal world, conservatives would fight to the end to cut government regulations in half, shutter cabinet departments, and reduce taxes significantly. But they will not be able to make a dent in any of those priorities if they don’t have the numbers in Congress.
With the glacial legislative pace and divided Congress we now have in Washington, the only real option for Republicans to enact legislation or fulfill conservative ideals is to take control of the Senate (a net of six seats). Barring a major scandal or absolute catastrophe that backfires against the GOP — such as revisiting the suicide strategy championed by Ted Cruz and conservative nihilists to grind government to a halt — Republicans are poised to do just that next year, winning a potentially significant number of seats in the Senate, along with a majority in the House and a majority of governorships. As the respected political analyst Charlie Cook notes, 2014 is a “do or die” moment for Republicans in the Senate. The GOP needs to build a strong Senate majority because in 2016, 24 Republicans will be up for re-election, many of them vulnerable to defeat.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Daily Caller
Also See at The Hill: "Budget Deal Will Lead To GOP Victory"
U.S. voters head to the polls next November for congressional midterm elections with enormous political stakes for President Barack Obama. All 435 seats in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will be at stake along with 33 of the 100 seats in the Democratically-controlled Senate. Obama has seen a major dip in his public approval rating of late and if that continues, it could be a major factor in the November elections.
House Speaker John Boehner and his fellow Republicans hope to gain congressional seats in November by focusing on the troubled rollout of Obama’s health care law.
“There is no doubt that our failure to roll out the ACA [Affordable Care Act] smoothly has put a burden on Democrats, whether they are running or not, because they stood up and supported this effort through thick and thin,” he said.
The president’s party often lost seats in the second term midterm election and the fate of the health care law would have a major impact on the elections, said analyst John Fortier.
Public attitudes toward Congress were dismal in the wake of the government shutdown in October, said Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown.
Lawmakers with Tea Party support got much of the blame for the shutdown, and that has sparked a new battle within the Republican Party, said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.
“Many mainstream Republicans are now pointing the finger at the Tea Party as well, not just Democrats," he said. "The Tea Party is on to the right issues. The question is: are they going to change their tactics and their messaging?”
Read more from Jim Malone at Voice of America
Much to everyone’s surprise, the budget deal squeezed past both houses of Congress. But where does that leave Paul Ryan, the Republican who brokered the deal with Democrats?
Last summer, Ryan’s bona fides as a fiscal conservative landed him the vice-presidential spot on Mitt Romney’s ticket. Famous for his spending and entitlement-slashing budgets, Ryan was recruited to energize the conservative base of the GOP.
A year and a half later, with speculation already swirling about who the Republicans will field in the next presidential election, Ryan could find himself on the opposite side of the equation, having sacrificed his well earned reputation for fiscal conservatism on the altar of compromise.
The other top 2016 conservative contenders -- Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz -- have spotted the chance to outflank Ryan on the inside. They have conspicuously refused to back the bipartisan budget agreement Ryan crafted and are poised to vote against it, leaving the Wisconsin congressman all alone on the budget issue.
“For Rubio, Paul and Cruz, this vote is about keeping the powder dry, pure and simple,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “They are going to have a few more tough votes most likely between now and 2016 and they just want to keep the powder dry.”
This is particularly true in Rubio’s case, O’Connell noted, because Rubio angered the conservative base when earlier this year he worked with Democrats on a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
“He is looking to make himself a problem solver on Capitol Hill,” O’Connell said. “He’s one of the few people, at least in the House, that can really take up that mantle because he’s trusted by both conservatives and members of the establishment in the party.”
Read more from Pema Levy at Newsweek
By clearing the decks of the bipartisan budget deal, some political observers say, the GOP establishment is banking on the idea that giving up ground in the spending battle now will pay off over the long run by allowing Republicans to avoid getting punished for another government shutdown.
According to this scenario, if there’s no government shutdown, Republicans can focus on the 2014 congressional elections and bank on the growing opposition to Obamacare to strengthen their numbers on Capitol Hill. In the best case, they could add the Senate to their control of the House and be in a better position to pursue the spending reductions and limited-government policies that Democrats have thwarted in recent years.
“This was the establishment wing of the party telling the base that elections have consequences,” said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist. “Because Obamacare is the golden goose for 2014, they don’t want to have anything interfere with making as many gains as possible in Congress — particularly in the Senate.”
Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times
Republican candidates must stop "kneecapping each other" over who is most like GOP icon Ronald Reagan and create a new agenda to win over voters, noted GOP strategist Ford O'Connell says.
"Over the past two presidential cycles . . . we wound up engaging in a 'battle royal' over who's the right player to Ronald Reagan," O'Connell told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"Ronald Reagan's the greatest president of the modern era, but essentially having this sort of a bloodbath . . . makes us really look out of touch," he said Tuesday.
Read more at Newsmax.com
Conservative groups are looking to make the Capitol Hill battle over President Obama’s judicial nominees an issue in Senate elections in 2014 by arguing that red-state Democrats are “rubber-stamping” liberal judges.
The Judicial Crisis Network has already announced a round of ads attacking Sen. Mary L. Landrieu in Louisiana for supporting all of Mr. Obama’s judicial picks, and said she and other Democrats will have to be careful going forward about which judges they approve.
“They are going to have to decide whether they are gong to stick with a president who is flagging in popularity or represent the more moderate voters in their home states who will turn out at the ballot box,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the Judicial Crisis Network.
The issue boiled over late last month when Senate Democrats used the so-called nuclear option to change the chamber’s long-standing filibuster rules, eliminating the GOP’s chance for partisan blockades and making it easier for Mr. Obama’s nominations to clear the chamber.
Ford O’Connell, a GOP consultant, said the fight is “too inside baseball” for most rank-and-file voters — though it is an issue that resonates with tea partyers and the Republican base.
“Southerners in particular — in Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina — hate what they perceive as judicial activism from progressives,” he said.
Democrats said they welcome an electoral fight about judges, saying they believe voters will want to punish Republicans for obstruction of Mr. Obama’s agenda.
Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times
A new book from former John McCain campaign worker, Ford O’Connell has ruffled some feathers in the Grand Old Party with the release of his new book, “Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery."
In his book, O’Connell looks at the fall of the Republican Party and ten very specific pieces of advise for the revitalizing the party.
Read more from Robert Herriman at The Global Dispatch
Lovers of Ronald Reagan: Avert your eyes. A leading Republican strategist said the beloved leader is dead and that the GOP of the future needs to move on and quit looking to the past.
Ford O’Connell, a former campaign worker for Sen. John McCain’s failed bid for the presidency in 2008, said in his newly released book that the Republican Party has been hit hard with “obsessive Reagan disorder,” an unhealthful state that is stymieing growth, The Hill reported.
The guidance is sure to irk those who see the GOP as falling fast from traditional conservative views and pine for what they see as the golden days of Reagan.
But Mr. O’Connell said he was only trying to propel the party forward.
Read more from Cheryl K. Chumley at The Washington Times
A Republican strategist is reminding his party that President Reagan is dead.
Ford O'Connell, who worked on Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, says if Republicans want to win the White House in 2016, they need to break free of the "obsessive Reagan disorder."
Rule #1 of the political analyst's newly released book, "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery," is: "Ronald Reagan is dead. Accept it."
Such a sentiment is sure to be tough to digest for a party insistent on using the 40th president's legacy as a GOP litmus test to prove conservative credentials.
"The Reagan fixation is a drag on the future success of the GOP at the national level. It undermines the candidates because it becomes a crutch for their inability to articulate an actual agenda or a forward-looking vision," he writes.
In an interview with The Hill, O'Connell says he combines his "two loves: politics and football" into his work “Hail Mary,” a sort-of political manual for presidential hopefuls.
The native Texan contends that he is "not pushing a personal agenda" in his blunt "playbook."
He says it is aimed squarely at the 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, whom he handicaps in a chapter entitled “2016 Republican Presidential Scouting Report."
"This was an honest attempt to say, 'Hey, if you want to win the White House, you've got to understand the obstacles and what it's going to take to get 270 electoral votes, regardless of who the nominee is," O'Connell explains.
Read more from Molly Hooper at The Hill
When legendary University of Michigan football coach, Bo Schembechler, retired in 1990, many people saw the end of a golden age; that Michigan, the most winning program in the history of Division I college football, would never achieve that same glory. But Bo was replaced. The football team claimed more victories and more championships. Football, like life, went on. Bo never would have wanted Michigan to live in the past.
The Republican Party has not learned this lesson about its own team. We are still waiting for our beloved head coach, Ronald Reagan, to come out of the locker room and lead us to another victory.
Anyone who tries a different approach is questioned and doubted – “that’s not how Ronald Reagan would have done it.” This is not the way to build a winning team.
If Republicans want to win big victories again, the first lesson is a painful one: Ronald Wilson Reagan is dead and he’s not coming back.
A disturbing trend has emerged in Republican presidential primaries and is threatening the GOP’s White House prospects in 2016. I call it O.R.D. – “Obsessive Reagan Disorder.” It is the insistence that any presidential candidate verify that he is Reagan’s stylistic and ideological twin.
Read more from Ford O'Connell at FoxNews.com