House GOP using new ambush strategy against Dems

Led by Minority Whip Eric Cantor, House Republicans are targeting freshmen Democrats for embarrassment when they come to the floor to speak.

Published April 7, 2009 5:50PM (EDT)

Congressional Republicans haven't proven as good at being in the minority as they once were. But House Deputy Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., has come up with one pretty nifty strategy that's been successful so far.

Politico reports that Cantor has assembled a team of Republican lawmakers who have been assigned to target and ambush first-term Democrats when they go to the House floor to speak, the goal being to create humiliating footage suitable for YouTube.

From Patrick O'Connor's article on the tactic:

As it evolved, Cantor and his floor team recruited members, like Foxx, to request time to speak when vulnerable Democrats, like Kilroy, offer amendments or bills. The goal is to put these Democrats on the spot to answer tough political questions on sensitive topics. Under the rules of the House, the targeted members are forced to answer the questions or risk embarrassment in front of C-SPAN viewers and YouTube surfers...

Democrats are now hip to the scam and rarely take the bait. A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) quickly ushers most junior members out of the chamber whenever Republicans launch an attack — even if the member is controlling debate.

But the guerrilla tactics — which are just about all the Republicans have — are sure to continue as long as Democratic leaders, in a time-honored bid to help junior members look productive, keep encouraging them to offer amendments and bills.

As you can see in the video below, which features Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., going after Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, D-Ohio, the other big bonus for Republicans using this strategy is that, because they control the time, they can effectively keep their opponents from offering any justification, not to mention from regaining their composure.


By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

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Eric Cantor R-va. U.s. House Of Representatives