Republicans poured out of today's conference meeting with stories of "momentum" for the debt plan backed by the Speaker of the House. The RSC had, they said, been quieted by yesterday's fight. RSC Chairman Jim Jordan didn't speak during the meeting; he told reporters afterward that he was still a "no." Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of Ways and Means, told me that several previously skeptical members stood up to announce their "ayes," and Rep. Peter King put the number at "eight or nine." The story he really wanted to tell was that of Rep. Mike Kelly, a freshman from Pennsylvania who played football at Notre Dame and had been looking like a "no" vote. Kelly had placed "Play Like a Champion Today" signs at the door, and when he spoke at the end of the meeting, he held up a big sign of his own.
"He gave a Knut Rockne-type speech," said King. "And it ended with 'Put on your helmet, buckle your chinstrap, and knock the shit out of 'em.' He delivered it well."
Pulling members from "no" to "yes" is involving a lot of partisan rah-rahs. On the Laura Ingraham show yesterday, Boehner said he was telling members that his plan was worth backing because "President Obama hates it." Support it, or you hand Obama a win.
"If we vote it down," said King, "we cripple ourselves for the next year."
(Photo of Peter King by David Weigel)