Media falsely suggest that only Dems dismissed GOP accusation that Pelosi's speech cost GOP votes as "nonsense"

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER, MATT GERTZ & MARK BOCHKIS

Several media outlets falsely suggested that only Democrats denied Republican claims that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's speech on the floor of the House of Representatives before a September 29 vote on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 "cost some GOP votes." In fact, several House Republicans also have denied the allegation.

Several media outlets have reported that Republicans claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) speech "cost some GOP votes" for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, and that Democrats have denied that claim. But they did not note that several Republicans also have denied the allegation. For instance, a September 30 Politico article reported that following the September 29 defeat of the bill, "[House Minority Leader John] Boehner and other Republicans said a speech by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had cost some GOP votes," and that "some Republican aides began spreading word before her speech even ended that her remarks would turn the tide against them." Politico then reported that "Democrats dismiss the charge as nonsense." But the Politico article did not note that several House Republicans have also "dismiss[ed] the charge." Indeed, a separate Politico blog post quoted Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) saying "the idea that her speech shifted votes is 'nonsense.' " And Boehner himself appeared to contradict the suggestion that Pelosi's speech "had cost some GOP votes" that had been committed to vote for the bill during an interview on the September 29 CBS Evening News.

Similarly, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on September 30 that "a dozen votes disappeared, [Republicans] said, when Pelosi delivered a toughly worded speech on the House floor," and that "Democrats ... ridiculed those who pointed a finger at Pelosi." And the Boston Globe reported on September 30 that "[a]fter the vote, Boehner blamed Pelosi," and that "House minority whip Roy Blunt said a dozen Republicans switched to a 'no' vote after the Pelosi speech," while "Democrats ... ridiculed the notion that the speech by Pelosi was the decisive factor."

Additionally, during the 9 a.m. ET hour of the September 30 edition of MSNBC Live, anchor Tamron Hall stated that "some claim" Pelosi's speech "was the nail in the coffin for the deal," even though in the previous hour on MSNBC, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) stated that he "didn't know a single Republican who" voted against the bill because of Pelosi's speech, and that the assertion that Pelosi's speech changed votes was a "stupid claim." (Hall later noted Shadegg's comments in response to a statement by Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) about Pelosi's speech during the 11 a.m. hour of MSNBC Live.)

By contrast with these other media reports, The Washington Post reported that while Republican leaders "initially blamed Pelosi," they "backed away within hours, conceding they never had the votes they had promised."

During his interview with anchor Katie Couric, Boehner said that the members who purportedly changed their votes because of Pelosi's speech had not, in fact, been "committed to vote for" the bill in the first place, but were simply those "we thought that we could bring along on the floor":

COURIC: What was the impact of Speaker Pelosi's remarks today, in your view?

BOEHNER: Well, we had about a dozen members that we thought that we could bring along on the floor. They were in play, not committed to vote for it, but after what I thought was a rather partisan speech, given the nature of this bill and how we've worked in a bipartisan way, it really killed our chances to get any of those dozen members to actually come our way and vote for the bill. It just didn't need to happen. I know we're five weeks from an election, but we could have waited until this bill passed to begin firing partisan shots.

In addition, in a September 29 post to the Politico blog The Crypt, Ryan Grim reported that Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (CA), a "lead opponent" of the bill, dismissed claims that Pelosi's speech changed votes:

"To be honest, somebody finding out that Nancy Pelosi made a partisan speech? I'm shocked," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a lead opponent of the bailout package, who tells the Crypt that the idea that her speech shifted votes is "nonsense."

Further, in a September 29 article (registration required), Roll Call reported:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) threw cold water on a key rationale House Republican leaders have been employing this afternoon to explain why they couldn't deliver more GOP votes for the Wall Street bailout package.

At a Monday afternoon press conference, GOP leaders argued that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cost the measure a dozen Republican votes by delivering an overly partisan floor speech in support of it.

But Bachmann, speaking at a Republican Study Committee press conference, told reporters, "I want to assure you that was not the case. We are not babies who suck our thumbs. We have very principled reasons for voting no."

Bachmann was responding to comments Democratic leaders made dismissing the GOP leaders' claims. But she apparently confused the Democratic response with the initial charge by Republicans, and her comments mirrored those of the Democratic leaders.

Discussing the bailout on the September 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) similarly asserted: "And so, I really don't believe what the speaker said today was very different than most speeches she gives in which she denounces the administration and denounces Republicans. I am -- I'm going to go against the stream here and tell you it may have had some impact on some members, but I think what really happened here is the American people rejected this corporate bailout and the people's House did likewise."

And during the September 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough asked Shadegg: "Did you vote against this bill because your feelings were hurt by Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, and members of the Democratic Caucus?" Shadegg responded: "No, I didn't Joe. And I don't know a single Republican who did. It was a stupid speech by her, but it didn't move any votes. On an issue of this importance, nobody would be moved by that." Scarborough then said: "Well, Boehner said it moved votes. Was Boehner wrong?" Shadegg replied: "Yeah. I think their feelings were hurt. It was embarrassing for leadership of both parties to lose the bill, so they went out and made a stupid claim. But I don't know a single person who changed their vote on the basis of that, or would've."

Fox News senior producer Chad Pergram also reported nearly an hour before Pelosi's speech began that he was "hearing from the Republican side of the aisle, they may only have 40 to 60 of their members" supporting the bill, a number that Pergram noted "leaves us very short there." Sixty-five Republicans and 140 Democrats ultimately voted for the bill -- 12 votes short of the number needed for passage.

From the Politico article:

After Monday's defeat, Boehner and other Republicans said a speech by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had cost some GOP votes. In fact, some Republican aides began spreading word before her speech even ended that her remarks would turn the tide against them.

"We had a dozen members that we thought that we had a really good chance of getting on the floor," Boehner told reporters afterward. "And all that evaporated when the speaker spoke."

Democrats dismiss the charge as nonsense -- as a Pelosi aide said, members vote on bills, not speeches.

And the fact remains that a majority of Democrats stood with Pelosi while a majority of Republicans put distance between themselves and Boehner.

On some level, the problem was a lack of discipline. House Republicans lack the clear leadership chain that characterized their tenure in the majority under DeLay. The member-to-member relationships were much closer, so the whips typically had a better sense where votes stood before heading to the floor.

Boehner lacks the heft of former Speaker Dennis Hastert, who could always flip a few core votes in the final days before a tough roll call, and his party lacks any other heavy now that President Bush has only a few months left in office.

From the Inquirer article:

In explaining what went wrong, Republicans said they thought they had just enough votes to pass the package at one point. But perhaps a dozen votes disappeared, they said, when Pelosi delivered a toughly worded speech on the House floor, blaming the administration's "anything-goes mentality" for the financial meltdown.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) held up a copy of Pelosi's speech and declared: "Right here is the reason I believe this vote failed."

For their part, Democrats blamed GOP leaders for failing to produce enough votes for their own president's proposal and ridiculed those who pointed a finger at Pelosi.

What the Republicans were saying, in the view of Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was that "because someone hurt their feelings, they decided to punish the country."

Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), who voted for the bill, seemed to be talking for legislators in both parties worried about facing angry, anti-bailout constituents at the polls five weeks from today.

"We're all worried about losing our jobs," Ryan said. "Most of us say, 'I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it - not me.' "

From the Globe article:

After the vote, Boehner blamed Pelosi. He said she "had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference [and] caused a number of members, who we thought we could get, to go south." House minority whip Roy Blunt said a dozen Republicans switched to a "no" vote after the Pelosi speech.

Democrats, however, ridiculed the notion that the speech by Pelosi was the decisive factor. Frank said he found it hard to believe that a dozen Republicans voted against the bill "because people's feelings were hurt."

From the September 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: Let's bring in now Republican Arizona Representative John Shadegg. John, let me begin by asking you: Did you vote against this bill because your feelings were hurt by Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, and members of the Democratic Caucus?

SHADEGG: No, I didn't Joe. And I don't know a single Republican who did. It was a stupid speech by her, but it didn't move any votes. On an issue of this importance, nobody would be moved by that.

SCARBOROUGH: Well, [Rep. John] Boehner said it moved votes. Was Boehner wrong?

SHADEGG: Yeah. I think their feelings were hurt. It was embarrassing for leadership of both parties to lose the bill, so they went out and made a stupid claim. But I don't know a single person who changed their vote on the basis of that, or would've.

From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the September 30 edition of MSNBC Live:

HALL: Good morning to you, I'm Tamron Hall. A wounded Wall Street begins its trading day in less than half an hour, a day after the $700 billion financial rescue plan went down in a stunning defeat in the House of Representatives. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its worst point-plunge ever -- a 777-point free-fall, nearly 7 percent drop. In one day, Americans lost $1.3 trillion. More than half of all Americans own stocks in retirement accounts, so we're probably talking about you at home right now.

So, here are some of the front-page headlines: The Wall Street Journal: "Bailout Plan Rejected, Markets Plunge, Forcing New Scramble to Solve Crisis." And the New York Daily News: "Wall St. in Crisis." The New York Times writing "Defiant House Rejects Huge Bailout." A lot of fallout this morning over what happened on the Hill, and some claim that moment that we saw -- that we're going to show you right now --was the nail in the coffin for the deal.

[begin video clip]

PELOSI: For too long, this government, in eight years, has followed a right-wing ideology of anything goes, no supervision, no discipline, no regulation.

BOEHNER: Speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get to go south

FRANK: And because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country. ... There are 12 Republican members who were ready to stand up for the economic interests of America, but not if anybody insulted them -- I'll make an offer. Give me those 12 people's names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them.

[end video clip]

HALL: So, that was the speak and the spin, you might say, yesterday. So, what happens today as we move forward? We've got a lot of insight and smart perspective for you this morning.

From the September 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

HANNITY: Well, you know, what do you make of, for example, Nancy Pelosi's comments? She gives this speech, and, you know, we've been lectured a lot about not being able to call or suggest Democrats that say the war is lost, the surge has failed, and that disarm our own troops that are fighting in Iraq, Barack Obama saying our troops air raid villages and bomb civilians. You're not allowed to question people's patriotism. Nancy Pelosi does it. She politicizes in the speech. And it's acceptable now in the Democratic world, 30-some-odd days before an election.

PENCE: Yeah, but, you know, to be honest with you, you know, welcome to the NFL. I mean in -- this has been a very heavy-handed Democrat imperial majority where the Democrats have used hot rhetoric and closed rules to move legislation.

And so, I really don't believe what the speaker said today was very different than most speeches she gives in which she denounces the administration and denounces Republicans.

I am -- I'm going to go against the stream here and tell you it may have had some impact on some members, but I think what really happened here is the American people rejected this corporate bailout and the people's House did likewise.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
MSNBC, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, The Politico
Person
Tamron Hall
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.