Steele memo: Yes, GOP's trying to stall healthcare reform

The RNC chair makes his party's new rhetorical strategy official

Published December 10, 2009 5:30PM (EST)

Just over six months ago, pollster Frank Luntz had some advice for his Republican colleagues, advice he desperately wanted them to take: "You simply MUST be vocally and passionately on the side of REFORM... If the dynamic becomes 'President Obama is on the side of reform and Republicans are against it,' then the battle is lost and every word in this document is useless."

Things are different now. Republicans think, and rightly so, that they're in a much stronger position on healthcare than they were when Luntz penned the memo that contained those words of wisdom. So their rhetorical strategy has shifted, and now it's at the point when top Republicans have no problem admitting to exactly the dynamic that Luntz warned against.

In a memo of his own, published Thursday, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele wrote:

I urge everyone to spend every bit of capital and energy you have to stop this health care reform. The Democrats have accused us of trying to delay, stall, slow down, and stop this bill. They are right. We do want to delay, stall, slow down, and ultimately stop them from experimenting on our nation’s health care. And guess what, so do a majority of Americans.

Steele's often off message, but not this time. With polls trending away from President Obama, and having seen the anger on display at the town halls this summer, the GOP's content to let everyone know their plan.

That doesn't mean Democrats won't try to make them pay for it. In a statement, Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Hari Sevugan said:

With this memo and Senator Judd Gregg's obstruction manual, Republicans have laid their cards on the table and made explicit that their intention, their singular goal, is obstructing the President's agenda for the sake of politics no matter how high the price for the American people. They've made the choice crystal clear for voters -- while Democrats are working to get things done for the benefit of the American people, Republicans are obstructing progress for the benefit of themselves and their special interest allies. If they think that's a winning proposition, they are in for a world of hurt.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Healthcare Reform Michael Steele Republican Party War Room