The GOP Comeback Plan In Six Steps

The Republican Party needs to do some damage control. During the 16-day government shutdown, the party’s approval ratings hit record lows in several polls, reaching over 70 percent disapproval.

Still, a general outline is emerging on where the party needs to move over three months in order to recover from its self-inflicted wounds. Here’s what the Republican Party needs to do in order to have a strong showing in 2014 and beyond, according to Republican strategists.

Step 2: Draw attention to the messy Obamacare rollout

The shutdown distracted voters from what has been a rocky rollout of the online health care exchanges. Now that the shutdown is over, Republicans see this as a means of attacking the health care law. Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who worked on John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, is adamant on this point.

“Shine the spotlight on the Obamacare rollout and basically allow the stories of Obamacare’s failures write themselves,” he says. “All they have to do is make sure that people read these stories.”

Step 4: Rally around Paul Ryan

Whether Republicans avert another shutdown will largely depend on the party’s leadership uniting around Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and the budget deal he plans hammers out in a conference with Senate conferees over the next two months. Democrats want to get rid of the sequester cuts, and O’Connell sees this as a leverage point for Ryan and Republicans to make headway on issues important to Republicans, like spending. If the Tea Party doesn’t go along with Ryan and a budget deal, Republicans could botch their chances in 2014.

“Trade [the sequester] for something bigger, whether it be entitlement reform or tax reform or whatever, they need to get a unified strategy and get something for the sequester so they can move forward,” O’Connell said. “They have to recognize if they don’t do it, they’re going to be stealing defeat from the jaws of victory in 2014. It’s out of necessity. Hopefully necessity is what will unify them in the short term.”

Read more from Pema Levy at Newsweek

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Analysis & Political Strategy