House Republicans on Friday were amid their three-day legislative retreat at Baltimore's Inner Harbor and observers couldn't help but take note of how relatively low-key this year's affair is by comparison with last year's.
Politico described some of the main differences:
Last year, they opened the doors at their winter retreat to President Barack Obama — and to the media — and were quickly schooled on policy and politics on national TV. Obama stole the spotlight at the Republican meeting, and the GOP looked weak...
... Forget about having the president and TV cameras in the room this time.
Obama hasn’t been invited, and the Republicans are curbing press access to their retreat, a three-day weekend meeting designed to motivate the party as the new Congress begins.
None of the sessions are expected to be open to the press. Instead, they’ve invited a list of Republican dignitaries, like former Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas to talk policy and politics.
NPR's Andrea Seabrook reported the following for the network's newscast:
Some big names will address the House Republicans, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour — both potential Republicans candidates for President in 2012.
Speaker Boehner says this conference will focus on ways to cut spending and decrease budget deficits.
And it was supposed to be a celebration of sorts, after Republicans were to vote on repealing Democrats' health care law.
That was, until the Tucson, Ariz. mass shootings last Saturday which derailed the plans of so many this week.
The meeting will provide Republicans with a chance to regroup for what is meant to be an important and symbolic moment next week when the House GOP plans to approve legislation to repeal the health care law.
As they formally took charge of the House this month, Republicans had hoped to move quickly to a repeal vote.
But the shootings of 19 people, with six killed, including a congressional aide and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, caused them to postpone the vote from this week to next.
Among the things they must decide is how to adjust their game plan to accommodate calls for greater civility in the public discourse.
But they also must decide how to avoid getting sidetracked, as well as how to keep the pressure on the Obama Administration, consistently if now civilly, on jobs, spending and taxes since those issues helped them win back the House majority.