From NBC's Mike Viqueira
A former House GOP leader is calling this year's political atmosphere "the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than the fall of 2006," citing "deep seeded (sic) antipathy toward the president."
Rep. Tom Davis wrote a 20-page treatise (see earlier note) assessing the state of the Republican Party as we head into the summer and presented it to House GOP rank and file this morning. Davis, who is retiring, is rumored to be interested in finishing his term as the head of the GOP House campaign arm.
We are hearing a lot today from Republicans and their concern about their "brand," and Davis takes it to another level in his memo; "a congressional GOP brand tied to George Bush is struggling"; "...deep seeded antipathy toward the president, the war, gas prices, the economy, foreclosures and, in some areas, the underlying cultural differences that continue to brand our party."
And the kicker, "the Republican brand is in the trash can...if we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf."
And just in case anyone is laboring under the illusion that the party can remake itself in the image of John McCain, Davis asserts, "McCain has his own branding and it is not consistent with congressional Republican branding."
Up-and-coming Rep. Eric Cantor thinks that "the paradigm has shifted" for Republicans, and that what has happened last night in Mississippi, and earlier in Illinois and Louisiana, is a "trailing indicator" of an unpopular administration.
Trying to link Democratic candidates to Obama "just didn't work" in Cantor's view.
"The country doesn't want to hear too liberal, too this, too that," he said. The country wants positive solutions, he added. Cantor's statements are directed not only at party leadership, but also at grassroots and state-party establishments.
It remains to be seen whether the fallout from Mississippi will result in heads rolling here in Washington. Meetings continue tonight and tomorrow morning.