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On multiple fronts, House GOP leaders trip over agenda rollout

Kevin McCarthy and his team had 15 months to prepare for the rollout of their "Commitment to America" blueprint. It has not gone smoothly.


It was 15 months ago when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy first started talking publicly about rolling out a “Commitment to America” agenda. That should’ve given the would-be House speaker and other Republican leaders plenty of time to prepare for a big rollout.

They have reason to be disappointed with how it’s gone.

The first misstep was a couple of days ago, when the House GOP published its blueprint online, only to remove it soon after without explanation, and then republished the whole thing again a day later.

This morning, things got a little worse. The Daily Beast reported:

As he rolled out the first official Republican Party congressional platform in years, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy fittingly invoked the revered father of the GOP: Abraham Lincoln. At the top of a letter to Republican lawmakers thanking them for their contributions to the “Commitment To America” — the policy agenda they are launching near Pittsburgh on Friday — McCarthy included a quote attributed to Lincoln. “Commitment,” reads the quote, “is what transforms a promise into reality.”

It’s a nice quote, but there’s literally no evidence that Lincoln ever said it. The phrase did appear in advertising, however, for Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street giant that collapsed in 2008.

And in case that weren’t quite enough, House Republican leaders this morning also released a video to help promote their agenda, though as HuffPost noted, it had one key flaw.

House Republican leaders on Friday unveiled their “Commitment to America” agenda for 2023 ― and with it, an inspirational video full of scenes presented as exceptional imagery of America that were actually stock footage from Russia and Ukraine.

In fact, the House GOP’s video featured multiple shots from Serg Grbanoff, a filmmaker based in Russia, as well as a Slovakian store that was supposed to help capture American inflation.

To be sure, the important thing about the Republicans’ blueprint is its substance, and on that front, McCarthy’s pitch is deeply flawed. His platform — I’m using the word loosely — is largely made up of vague platitudes, in large part because the party likely fears a political backlash that would come if GOP leaders went into more detail about their policy plans.

But it’s also true that the minority leader and his team were hoping for a smooth rollout for their “commitment,” and as today’s developments make clear, they didn’t have one.