Saturday, March 19, 2005


Why does Deborah Pryce fear her constituents?

Not sure how we missed this a couple of days ago, but Ohio's own U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce is now opening telling her fellow Republicans to stop holding "town hall" meetings with their constituents. From USA Today:
Republicans in Congress have a game plan to avoid "March madness" when they go home this weekend to talk to constituents about Social Security during a two-week holiday recess. Shaken by raucous protests at open "town hall"-style meetings last month, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce of Ohio and other GOP leaders are urging lawmakers to hold lower-profile events this time.

[. . .]

This month, Republican leaders say they are chucking the open town-hall format. They plan to visit newspaper editorial boards and talk to constituents at Rotary Club lunches, senior citizen centers, chambers of commerce meetings and local businesses. In those settings, "there isn't an opportunity for it to disintegrate into something that's less desirable," says Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.

[. . .]

Pryce says many Republicans "came back amazed at the depths that the opposition is going to and a little wiser about how to promote our issues." She says opposition tactics scared away constituents with "legitimate concerns," and Republicans now want to "put a little more control back into it."
What constitutes a lower-profile event?
Republican leaders are urging their party's lawmakers to take the spotlight off themselves by convening panels of experts from the Social Security Administration, conservative think tanks, local colleges and like-minded interest groups to answer questions about the federal retirement program.
Say, does that mean Pryce suggests her cohorts not publicize the event or ice out those that aren't robo-supporters? Why, heck no!
Pryce denies that her party's members would limit participants or audiences to supporters, as the Bush administration has done during its current 60-day Social Security tour.
But, apparently not everyone got the word.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, . . . offered advice on how to avoid disruptions to her fellow Republicans at a House caucus meeting last week. . . "You don't call on (protesters) when you see them in the audience, because you know who your constituents are," says Capito.
As House Republican chair, Pryce is not exactly being bombarded with kudos for how the whole Social Security thing is going. Our guess is that was a factor in yesterday's announcement that Pryce was crossed off the list of possible replacements for Tom Delay if (when) he is indicted and forced to take a demotion. (And we'll buy a case of beer for the first person who can explain to us exact what Pryce's new post is.)


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