— From NBC's Mark Murray
Obviously buoyed by the recent Gallup poll now showing Bush's approval rating at 44% and Republicans even with Democrats in the generic ballot test, House GOP campaign committee chairman Tom Reynolds guaranteed to reporters at an off-camera briefing this afternoon that Republicans will hold onto control of the House in November. "Reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated," he said. "We will be in the majority the next Congress. You can count on that." To bolster that claim, Reynolds said that Republicans are on the offense in a handful of districts (although they remain on the defense in most others); that they have the money (now with $36 million in the bank); and that their message is the winning one: "All politics is local."
During the Q&A at the briefing, Reynolds fielded several questions regarding Ohio Rep. Bob Ney's (R) refusal -- so far -- to resign from Congress, even though he recently pleaded guilty to corruption charges. He replied that Ney hasn't been on the ballot in more than a month, and that he won't be an issue in other races across the country. Pressed by another reporter if Ney's refusal to resign damaged the GOP's and Congress' credibility, Reynolds said, "I stand by what I've said" -- in that Ney won't impact other races. Pressed again by a third another reporter to directly comment on Ney's refusal to resign, he answered: "The gentleman is in alcohol rehab, and I don't know if any of my colleagues have talked to him since he checked himself in."