From NBC's Huma Zaidi
In their first gathering since losing the majority in both houses of Congress, RNC members gathered this afternoon to hear House Minority Leader John Boehner tell them why they lost and what they plan on doing about it. He didn't stop there, though. Boehner took a few shots at Democrats, arguing that while they were the minority party they expressed "constant negativity" and that their efforts to work with the GOP lacked civility. Republicans will do better, Boehner said. He added that with Democrats now in the majority, they're in for a "rude awakening" when they try to move their "big agenda" through Congress. (Democrats will hold a press conference later today touting their completion of their "Six for '06 agenda).
In his post-mortem of why Republicans lost in last year's midterms, Boehner said that a multitude of problems could be to blame (such as Iraq and ethics problems) but ultimately they lost because they lost their way and didn't give Americans a reason to vote for them. Boehner said the party must "rebuild voters' confidence" and make an effort to be seen as "relevant" to the issues facing Americans. In order to do that, Boehner said Congress must tackle issues like health care, welfare and entitelement reform and balancing the budget. (There was no mention of national security or Iraq in that list of agenda items). Boehner also said that the RNC needs to reach out to nontraditional voters.