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Ed Gillespie: hero of the 2010 elections

By Marc Thiessen

Ed Gillespie is one of the heroes of the 2010 election cycle. He built American Crossroads and American Crossroads-GPS, which raised more than $60 million to help fuel Tuesday's GOP takeover of the House, and aggressively supported Tea Party-backed Republicans in tight Senate races ($7.3 million to support Ken Buck in Colorado, $3.9 million to support Marco Rubio in Florida, $3.1 million to support Rand Paul in Kentucky, $5 million to support Sharron Angle in Nevada, and $1.3 million to support Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania). And the Republican State Leadership Committee Gillespie established was integral to the GOP's historic 682-seat gain in state legislatures across the country that secured Republican control of 19 chambers and counting.

So it was unfortunate to see Sarah Palin (whom I greatly admire) criticize Ed this morning as "out of touch" because he said in a Fox News interview on Election Day that a new GOP House would "try to repeal those parts of the health-care reform bill, the Obamacare, that have caused premiums to go up and have shifted people out of their insurance they like into a public plan." On his website, David Frum stoked the fire, declaring that "Gillespie has been warning against trying to repeal the Democratic health reform outright" and said this was a sign that after having "refrained from direct confrontation with Tea Party radicalism" Gillespie "may be getting ready to rumble."

All of this is dead wrong.

Ed fought Obamacare from start to finish and predicted on television the day it passed that it would cost Democrats the House. In his Fox interview, he simply pointed to two provisions that polls showed were the most determinative in Tuesday's vote. He did not say those were the only provisions that should be repealed. I asked Ed directly, and he supports full repeal of Obamacare, which would then be replaced with a GOP alternative. That alternative would include medical liability reform, association health plans for small businesses, and other market-based ideas. It might include some provisions in the current law that Republicans support anyway, but not the provisions Republicans opposed, which are driving up health-care costs, killing jobs, and driving people from their private plans.

No one who knows Ed would believe for a moment that he is ready to compromise on a government takeover of health care. To the contrary, Ed has been fighting off liberal efforts to expand government health care long before Barack Obama was elected. I worked with Ed in the White House. When he joined the administration in 2007, he stood up like a brick wall to those in the GOP establishment who wanted President Bush to cave in to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and sign legislation dramatically expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). The Reid-Pelosi plan raised spending by as much as $50 billion, paid for it by raising taxes on working Americans, and would have turned a program designed for helping poor children into one covering children in households earning up to $83,000. It would have moved millions of children who already had private health insurance into government-run insurance programs. In other words, it was a precursor to Obamacare.

Ed recognized then what the Democrats were up to -- they wanted to use S-CHIP as a stepping stone to government-run health care for all Americans. Yet opposing S-CHIP expansion was politically perilous, and many Republicans advised the president against it. They warned doing so would give Democrats an opening to demagogue Republicans as being opposed to health care for poor children. With the benefit of Ed's wise counsel, Bush rejected this advice and vetoed the Democrats' S-CHIP expansion -- twice.

Fighting S-CHIP expansion took guts -- but Ed is not a guy who backs away from a tough fight or caves in to liberal demagoguery. As for David's contention that he is somehow opposed to "Tea Party radicalism" and "ready to rumble" with the Tea Party, this is simply absurd. Here is what Ed had to say about the Tea Party on CNBC's Kudlow Report when asked whether he had reservations about the Tea Party because the movement had cost the GOP seats. Ed replied:


I don't have reservations about the Tea Party. I know I'm perceived as an establishment Republican... [But] I worked for [Freedom Works founder] Dick Armey for ten years, and I agree with them on the issues, and I'm glad they're energizing the political process.... I think they are going to inject some steel into some spines in Washington, D.C., and that's a good thing... We would not be north of 60 seat-gain in the House of Representatives were it not for the energy and participation of Tea Party voters.

Ed Gillespie is a courageous conservative and Tea Party patriot. I think if Sarah Palin got to know Ed a little better she would find a kindred spirit -- and David might not be so quick to embrace him.

By Marc Thiessen  | November 4, 2010; 6:38 PM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
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Next: Friday p-Op quiz: "Shellacking" Edition

Comments

I'm glad that there was just a misunderstanding, then, because Ed did leave the impression in that Fox News interview that the new GOP House should not try to repeal ALL of Obamacare.

Posted by: JakeD2 | November 4, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Cool, and since the unions spent ever so much more than Crossroads on the elections, not even counting in kind work, are you going to break out how much they gave everyone too?

Posted by: sailingaway1 | November 4, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Greatly admire Sarah Palin???? She is an airhead. The big news about the election is that the TP lost, but they think they won and when they start presenting their agenda to the American people, their ideas will be soundly defeated. Just wait and see.

But in the meantime, they (TPs) will be a real headache for the Republicans. I have to think that somewhere in DC, hidden away, Ed and the boys are trying to figure out a way to get rid of Palin and the TPs before they cause even more Republican losses. Just wait and see.

Meanwhile, it is business as normal for the Republicans, e.g., Mitch McConnell wanting to make sure Obama is a one-term president. I guess he is stone deaf to the election - it is jobs, jobs and more jobs. Anyway, even getting rid of the TPs won't help the Republicans until they realize that the American people want the welfare state and as the poll results in Colorado prove - are willing to pay for it. Just wait and see.

Posted by: pamfah_99 | November 5, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

Greatly admire Sarah Palin???? She is an airhead. The big news about the election is that the TP lost, but they think they won and when they start presenting their agenda to the American people, their ideas will be soundly defeated. Just wait and see.

But in the meantime, they (TPs) will be a real headache for the Republicans. I have to think that somewhere in DC, hidden away, Ed and the boys are trying to figure out a way to get rid of Palin and the TPs before they cause even more Republican losses. Just wait and see.

Meanwhile, it is business as normal for the Republicans, e.g., Mitch McConnell wanting to make sure Obama is a one-term president. I guess he is stone deaf to the election - it is jobs, jobs and more jobs. Anyway, even getting rid of the TPs won't help the Republicans until they realize that the American people want the welfare state and as the poll results in Colorado prove - are willing to pay for it. Just wait and see.

Posted by: pamfah_99 | November 5, 2010 2:22 AM | Report abuse

So this is an entire column dedicated to what Sarah Palin may or may not think of Ed Gillespie. Why does this matter to anyone except those two people?

Posted by: mustangs79 | November 5, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Ed is not exactly known for guts. Hypocrisy, yes, dishonesty, yes, but guts, no. Isn't this the same person who is a lobbyist for the Chamber and promoting himself on tv shows as an honest broker?
By the way it is completely dishonest to say that the health program is making insurance rates go up. It's not even in effect yet. Insurance companies are causing the premiums to go up. You guys can never be honest.

Posted by: guyachs | November 5, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin needs to cool it. She has a gigantic ego and goes around denouncing people she knows nothing about. Her actions caused the GOP to lose the Senate. It's her way or the highway. She, not Susan O'Donnell, is the real witch of the Republican Party. If she keeps it up, she will wreck everything. She has got to be stopped know. There is no compromising with her. She has a tyrannical mentality that is contrary to the support of liberty of the new Republicans. At bottom, there is something really nasty about her that has nothing to do with politics but is highly personal. She has personal issues she has never confronted and is working them out by seeking power. People like that are highly dangerous.

Posted by: cummings01 | November 5, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I do not want to vote for Obama in 2012, but there is no way on earth I would vote for Palin. No way on earth.

Posted by: vickie105 | November 5, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

We're already seeing the infighting between the 'pubs and teabaggers. If the new congress defunds healthcare they can kiss the next election goodbye. Do they have any idea how many people are now insured with pre-existing conditions, that would have been previously denied? Grayson was right. Die quickly--that's what the republican's want.

Posted by: blarsen1 | November 5, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Marc,

I like Ed Gillespie, but he is neither stupid nor naive. He could have guessed how his comments will be interpreted by the average viewers on Fox (me included).
If you say that certain parts should be repealed, you can assume that people will think that other can stay, but the way the bill is structured this is impossible.
I like Karl Rove as well, but he was not so smart when he attacked Christine O'Donnell after she won the primaries - what purpose did it serve?
So both are definitely good positive assets to the Republican party, but they should be more careful when they make statements.

Posted by: gadl | November 5, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

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