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Secret Republican weapon for 2010 -- attack Pelosi

October 12, 2009 |  9:28 am

The House Republicans' campaign committee issued the first salvo last week, suggesting that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal should approach House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and "put her in her place" on Afghan policy. Pelosi responded the next day, calling the statement a throwback to sexist rhetoric.

"I'm in my place. I'm speaker of the House, the first woman speaker of the House. And I'm in my place because the House of Representatives voted me there," she said. "That language is something I haven't even heard in decades."

But it's becoming clear that running against Pelosi -- describing her as an out-of-touch liberal representing a fringe San Francisco constituency -- is on the first page of the Republican playbook for the 2010 elections.

Republicans have used this playbook before, without success, running against Pelosi in 2006 and 2008. But this year, with Democrat Barack Obama in the White House and the midterm elections widely viewed as a referendum on his leadership, the GOP hopes Pelosi will prove a wedge issue among independent voters who swung a number of congressional districts from red to blue in last year's elections.

In August, the National Republican Congressional Committee rolled out an ad against a number of Blue Dog Democrats, including Illinois' Bill Foster.

The Republicans have been running the playbook all year. Back in April, when talk of omnibus spending was providing the heat of the moment, the NRCC launched this ad against Ohio Democrat Zack Space.

Will the ploy work this year?

Democrats are dismissive. "When Republicans have no ideas and no solutions, they resort to ineffective personal attacks,” said Jennifer Crider of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Republicans’ Karl Rove-style attacks didn’t work in 2006, didn’t work in 2008, and they won’t work in 2010.”

But Republicans are salivating over Pelosi's low ratings, Obama's slipping popularity and a stubborn recession, convinced the mid-term elections give the anti-Pelosi campaign new promise. “Nancy Pelosi is a very polarizing figure, and she is clearly much more well-known today then she was four years ago,” Republican consultant Carl Forti told “She can definitely be used to help indict or impeach Democratic candidates on the issue.”

-- Johanna Neuman

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