From Bob Ruff, CNN
As the nation focuses this week on the president’s record during his first 100 days in office, Obama’s out-of-the-gate performance seemingly is being analyzed by every major media outlet in the nation. He’s even being compared to the man who virtually invented 100 days, Franklin Roosevelt.
But what about the Republicans? How’ve they done and what have they done since Barack Obama became president on January 20th?
Despite their minority status, they’ve certainly tried to be pro-active.
–In January House Republicans united to vote unanimously against the president’s stimulus package. But it didn’t work. Democrats passed the legislation anyway.
–That next month Rush Limbaugh, the radio host widely popular with conservatives, energized a Republican conference by saying he hopes “Obama fails.” Even some Republicans thought that was over the top.
–Dick Cheney on March 19th appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union”, launching a series of TV appearances that defended former President Bush’s eight years while criticizing President Obama’s performance. At one point he told CNN’s John King that the nation is less safe under the Obama administration. Some critics wondered why Cheney hadn’t been more visible when he was vice president.
–Later in March House Republicans led by Minority Leader John Boehner offered up “The Republican Road to Recovery” as an alternative to the president’s recovery plan. It went no where.
–And on April 15 a series of anti-tax rallies, advertised as non-partisan but attended overwhelmingly by conservatives, fizzled after just one day.
We decided to ask GOP pollster, Whit Ayres, why Republicans are reeling. “This is a center right country,” says Ayres, “and remains so despite President Obama’s election.”
But if that’s the case, what explains low support for Republicans in public opinion polls? And what about the announcement just this week by veteran Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter that he has defected to the Democratic party?
Ayers says Republican woes can be explained by a party leadership that has veered too far to the political right. To get back on track they have to “be a center right party, not just a right party.” They need to adopt Ronald Reagan’s approach, says Ayers, by appealing to groups not currently on the GOP’s radar.
Will it work? Ayres says eventually it will because public support for the parties ebbs and flows over time. He reminds people that Republicans were in the dumps after Watergate, and that the party rebounded nicely to elect Ronald Reagan and eventually majorities in the House and the Senate.