Some Republicans Try Out a New Campaign Theme: Bipartisanship

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — A woman who appears in an advertisement supporting Representative Jon Runyan, a New Jersey Republican, boasts about how he works “with both parties.”

Richard E. Mourdock of Indiana, whose Senate campaign has been most notable for his derision of legislative compromise as feckless, now says he would “work with anyone.”

While out and about on the campaign trail, Representative Bobby Schilling, Republican of Illinois, talks so much about all the great things he has done with Representative Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from nearby Iowa, that one would think the two were related.

Partisan obstreperousness, the force that propelled Congressional Republicans to widespread victory in 2010, is suddenly for many of them as out of style as monocles. In campaign advertisements, some lawmakers who once dug in against Democrats now promote the wonders of bipartisanship. And legislatively, Republicans in tough races are seeking to soften their edges by moderating their votes, tossing their teacups and otherwise projecting a conciliatory image to voters.

The Republican quest for bipartisanship — at least nominally — is not hard to explain. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week and released this weekend showed that 44 percent of Americans see Republicans at fault for gridlock in Washington, compared with 29 percent who blame President Obama and the Democrats. Nineteen percent said both were to blame. That imbalance has persisted at almost exactly those proportions since last year.

Democrats have noted Republicans’ efforts to present themselves as agreeable, and say they will try to beat them back.

“They’re going to redefine, and we are going to remind. That’s what this is about,” said Representative Steve Israel of New York, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “They were swept in on a Tea Party tsunami. The wave has receded, and they are left high and dry with their voting records.”

With less than two months until Election Day, some House races may turn on whether the incumbent Republicans can shake the Tea Party label that Democrats are eager to press to them like flypaper.

Representative Nan Hayworth, a Republican freshman from New York, has taken to pointing out that she has voted for bills supported by Mr. Obama “a third of the time.” As she zoomed through the Rotunda the other day in her signature spike heels, on her way to visit with Representative Paul D. Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president, Ms. Hayworth was asked if she was shifting to the center.

“Nope,” she said, never breaking stride. “I’ve been doing that from the start.”

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Photo courtesy of Rob Crawley, flickr