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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

From the depths of Mordor

Republicans at RNC headquarters last night

The lonely little party

At GOP headquarters in Washington, Ken Mehlman & Co. go from glum to grim as the Dems take the House.

By Mark Benjamin

REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., speaks to the press at the Republican National Committee Headquarters in Washington on Nov. 7, 2006.

Nov. 7, 2006 | WASHINGTON -- Long before the first key race was called for the Democrats on Tuesday, the Republican campaign establishment in Washington was in a bunkerlike, somber state.

At the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters building in the shadow of the Capitol, a handful of reporters had camped out Tuesday night at tables set up in the lobby, but no Republican leaders were to be found. After requests from the neglected press, early in the evening NRSC chairwoman Sen. Elizabeth Dole emerged from a bank of elevators for a brief chat with reporters in an empty conference room near the lobby, populated with little more than a half-dozen forlorn cheese plates laid out for the press on a few tables. The surrounding chairs were empty.

There wasn't going to be any party at those tables, Dole confirmed. When asked why, she motioned to a plate of smoked salmon and announced with what seemed like feigned spunk: "Party! Let's have a party!" When the clutch of four reporters surrounding her on the plush carpet failed to respond with Animal House enthusiasm, Dole turned serious. "I think we are focused on what we are doing right now," she explained about the lack of festivities. "There is plenty of time for big events."

Those GOP parties will have to wait. In fact, the closest thing to a Republican bash on election night in Washington was a victory party planned for Virginia Rep. Tom Davis -- at 8 p.m. at the Fairfax City Fire Department across the river in Northern Virginia. Inside the city on election night it was clear early on that the GOP was expecting a stiff rebuke from voters, despite weeks of rosy predictions from the White House.

Even hours before it was clear the Democrats had won the House, Dole was dodgy about predicting anything that could be considered a success for GOP prospects in that chamber. "Well, the House?" she said. "We'll see how things work out." When asked about whether corruption on Capitol Hill might have swayed voters away from the GOP, Dole appeared to take an early, intraparty potshot at her colleagues in the House. "Obviously, we need to clean up the House," Dole said, but insisted corruption is "a bipartisan problem that needs a bipartisan solution." She said nothing about the Senate.

posted by Steve @ 7:42:00 AM

7:42:00 AM

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