John Cornyn sees opportunity in 2010, says Cheney could be useful

Michael Bonfigli
Senator John Cornyn, Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), attended the Monitor breakfast at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington on Thursday.

Senator John Cornyn, the top campaign strategist for his fellow Senate Republicans, said he sees “significant opportunities in 2010" when he expects the races to focus on voters’ worries about federal spending and borrowing.

A useful Dick Cheney

The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) also said former Vice President Dick Cheney could be useful as a campaign surrogate in the upcoming battle to win senate seats depending “on the circumstance and on the race.” Cornyn added, “I would be proud to appear with the vice president, anywhere, anytime.”

Speaking at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast on Thursday, Cornyn said, “I think 2010 is likely to be about spending and borrowing and the anxiety the public have there as well as the failure to deal with other looming fiscal challenges like entitlement reform that threaten to swamp us.”

More grim economic news

While stressing that “nobody would hope for” the economy to remain troubled, Cornyn noted that “I don’t expect unemployment to go down significantly. So I think there will be serious economic anxiety going into the 2010 elections, not to mention the possibility of hyper inflation as the economy improves and you see all this money sloshing around in the global economy.”

Republicans were criticized during the 2008 election campaign for not controlling spending during the Bush years. In terms of credibility on the issue of fiscal discipline, “there is no question we are in a rebuilding mode,” Cornyn said. “We are having to regain our credibility on these issues. But frankly, the kind of spending we have seen coming out of Washington the last three months has made us look like pikers by comparison.”

GOP 'bordering on irrelevancy'

Cornyn did not downplay the challenges Senate Republicans face in rebuilding their ranks. “The reason I asked my colleagues to let me do this job is because I felt like we were bordering on irrelevancy as a party,” the junior Senator from Texas said. He noted that when he was elected in 2002, Republicans held 55 Senate seats. They now control 40. “There are not a lot of checks and balances on single party power in Washington,” he said.

What would be success for the Republican Senatorial Committee in 2010? “Success would be stemming the tide,” Cornyn said. He cautioned that “the math is not particularly friendly to us this time, there are 18 Republicans up and 18 Democrats” in 2010. “I am not going to name a number. Obviously, we want to move forward and not backward.”

Happy with the commander-in-chief

At least at the moment, Cornyn indicated Republican candidates were more likely to attack the Obama administration on economic issues rather than on matters of national security. When it comes to dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, “I am by and large and most Republicans I would say are largely pleased with his direction in both of those wars,” Cornyn said.

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