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Never mind Gephardt’s numbers. What Republicans need to worry about are all the polling numbers about so-called corporate accountability and ethics that candidates and both parties are currently swimming in. “Everything appears to be cutting the Democrats’ way right now,” says a Republican pollster. “But it’s all broad and unfiltered data that they’re looking at. Republicans can’t allow themselves to get too carried with it. I mean, who isn’t going to say they support laws that protect investors and retirement plans? For every poll the Democrats have that says they are getting political traction out of this, I can show you another poll that shows they aren’t.”
Republicans, nonetheless, are worried. On Thursday they were going on the offensive. Out front, look for Senate Republican Whip Sen. Don Nickles, who has small business experience in private life, to step up and defend the Republican position, which opposes tarring with a broad brush. He was slated to appear on several CNBC and MSNBC programs in the next couple of days.
One senator they wish they could put out there, as unreliable as he has been, is John McCain. “This is the kind of situation where you wish you had him on your side, that you could trust him to represent the party. The media just love him and he could spin them to look just as hard at the Democrats,” says a Republican Senate staffer. “But we don’t have him, and it just shows how much we need leadership from the president on this one. We don’t have anyone here who can carry the corporate accountability issue.”
The Republican pollster says that, by the end of July, both parties should have much clearer polling results to build into their push for the fall campaign. “I’m telling my clients to hold tight.”
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