Ed Gillespie: hero of the 2010 elections
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 He did not say those were the only provisions that should be repealed.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.
| November 4, 2010; 6:38 PM ET
Categories: Thiessen | Tags: Marc Thiessen
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