WASHINGTON: With Republicans controlling the White House and
Congress, House Democrats are taking steps to ensure their party's
message is not lost.
Last week, House minority leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and party message
chief Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) began forming 'rapid-response' message
The idea, according to DeLauro's press secretary, Ashley Westbrook, is
to provide leverage against more formalized communications resulting
from the majority positions held by the GOP.
'These teams are a response to the fact that we've lost the bully pulpit
we used to have when we had the White House,' said Westbrook. 'We're
doing this out of necessity; we don't have the president talking for us
The teams will be organized by issue and charged with contacting
editorial boards in response to breaking news and 'messages of the day'
from the White House. The first such scenario took place last week as
President Bush reneged on raising national carbon monoxide emission
standards (see story, below right). Four representatives held a news
conference the afternoon following the decision.