GOP Freshman Already Strategizing For Next Election
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
For Republicans it's a chance to brag about the accomplishments of their first weeks in the majority. For the huge class of freshman - more than 80 of whom are Republicans - it's time to set up their district offices and hire local staff. And for every member of the House it means strategizing about the political battles ahead. NPR's Andrea Seabrook visited one freshman Republican opening up shop this week on Maryland's eastern shore.
ANDREA SEABROOK: The sign is up on the glass door. This is the first district office of Maryland Congressman Andy Harris.
ANDY HARRIS: Thanks for coming out and sharing your evening. It's been an exciting three weeks, I've got to tell you - now four weeks, I guess, since I took the oath of office.
SEABROOK: Harris is one of the wave of new Republicans that gave the GOP their majority in the House.
HARRIS: The first week we did the most important thing, which is to put a new speaker of the House in place.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
SEABROOK: This office is on Maryland's eastern shore. Constituents mill around, munching on cookies and soda, listening to their congressman recount House Republicans' first accomplishments. He says the terrible shooting in Tucson slowed his party down for a week.
HARRIS: But then we came back, started the discussion on ObamaCare and sent the repeal bill, passed it through the House, sent it to the Senate two weeks ago.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE AND CHEERING)
SEABROOK: Harris is 54 years old. He's a doctor and a former Navy surgeon. And he lines right up with conservative GOP principles: Repealing health care and now cutting spending, which might not be quite so popular.
HARRIS: We're going to tackle big issues. And we're going to need your help, honestly. When we start talking about reducing that deficit, we're going to need you to go and remind people that we're done spending our money.
SEABROOK: He points to a toddler in the crowd.
HARRIS: We're spending his money, we're spending my children's money, and my future grandchildren's money, which after this weekend is a little closer because we're actually expecting to be grandparents.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING APPLAUSE)
SEABROOK: Dick Dameron, a retired Navy officer from nearby Trappe, Maryland, says he's glad to have a real conservative in the seat. And as for all those Democrats out here, well, he thinks they're Democrats purely out of habit.
DICK DAMERON: They don't realize that the party that their mother and their grandfathers belonged to doesn't exist anymore. It hasn't existed in 10 to 20 years. So a lot of them just can't bring themselves to call themselves Republicans or conservatives.
SEABROOK: Diana Waterman of the local Republican Party says just ask the so- called Democrats what they believe.
DIANA WATERMAN: They believe in fiscal responsibility, limited government, strong national defense. They sound like Republicans. They just can't bring themselves to change that D to an R.
SEABROOK: Andrea Seabrook, NPR News.
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