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Somebody gota keep an eye on what's happening to us. Lets not be blinded by all the bling, high fives and crap.
WASHINGTON — Texas Sen. John Cornyn is leading an early charge against President Barack Obama, seeking to blunt the new administration’s momentum in Congress while lighting the way for a GOP comeback in the next election.
The conservative Republican, the new head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, delayed Senate confirmation proceedings for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General-designate Eric Holder. He challenged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. And he orchestrated a GOP plan that blocked Democrat Al Franken — embroiled in a contested race with Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota — from taking a Senate seat.
“I think he has decided that the only chance Republicans have is to be very aggressive,” political scientist Larry Sabato said of the Texan, who come to Washington six years ago as a defender of President George W. Bush.
Cornyn said the campaign committee role makes him a key player in the Senate GOP leadership as well as the architect of the party’s Senate campaign in 2010.
“It’s a lot of work,” he said, “but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it would help the people of Texas.”
Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, who served on Cornyn’s Senate staff, said his former boss has no ulterior motives.
“He’s not the kind of guy to act in a very partisan manner just to advance partisan causes,” Olson said.
But some critics have a different take.
New York Gov. David Paterson, who appointed Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand as Clinton’s successor, called Cornyn’s maneuvering “grandstanding and self-promotion.”
And some Republican Senate colleagues want less partisanship and more collaboration. As Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., put it: “The message that the American people are sending us now is that they want us to work together and get to work.”
Cornyn said he won a commitment from Clinton that she “would be open” to an across-the-board donor disclosure requirement. He then voted for her confirmation — with 93 other senators.
Cornyn said he put the “hold” on Holder’s confirmation to win a commitment that he would not press prosecutions against anyone who used harsh interrogation techniques during the Bush administration.
And Cornyn pointedly challenged Reid about alleged ties to lobbyists. A Reid spokesman dismissed the criticism by Cornyn as having “everything to do with raising money.”
Larry Hufford, a political scientist at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, said Cornyn’s high-profile challenge to Clinton’s confirmation will please many conservative Republican donors.
“There is no better name than Clinton to go after,” Hufford said.
Cornyn, a master fundraiser who spent at least $28.5 million on his two Senate races in Texas, stands to gain political IOUs from his colleagues and a network of donor contacts as he heads the campaign committee.
Sabato said Cornyn, who has declined to rule out a future run for the White House, might use the campaign post as a springboard in 2012.
“There’s not exactly a stampede of candidates throwing their hats into the ring,” Sabato said, “but a 10-gallon hat from someone like Cornyn would be a pretty big hat.”
Jennifer Dlouhy contributed reporting from Capitol Hill.
Friday, January 23, 2009
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