Williamsburg, Va. — Due to the rainy weather, House Republicans aren’t having a grand time at their retreat this week, which is being held at the sprawling Kingsmill Resort. Few members have played golf, or ventured to nearby Colonial Williamsburg. But inside the hotel, which is surrounded by armed guards, Republicans are quietly planning their debt-limit strategy and talking politics in a ballroom overlooking the James River.
So far, prominent pollsters and journalists, such as Charlie Cook and William Kristol, have hosted briefings. During meals, several motivational speakers, including a blind mountain climber, have attempted to inspire the casually dressed lawmakers. There has also been much discussion about marketing. Patrick Doyle, chief executive of Domino’s Pizza, gave a well-received talk about selling a damaged brand to a modern audience.
But for the most part, the theme running through the sessions has been unity. As the nextseries of legislative battles nears, House GOP leaders are asking Republicans to stick together, especially after the internal clashes during the fiscal-cliff debate. Speaker John Boehner, for his part, has been a low-key presence. “He has been sitting back and listening,” says a Republican member. “He wants us to think more and fight less.”
Here are ten takeaways.
A short-term debt-limit extension is possible. Republicans are mulling the “possible virtue” of a short-term extension of the debt limit, according to Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan and other House leaders see such a move as the best way to engage President Barack Obama on spending cuts in the coming months. They believe that once the immediate threat of default is off the table, Republicans will be in a better bargaining position; the less drama, the better. “The last thing we should be debating is whether we’re going to put the nation’s full faith and credit at risk,” Representative Greg Walden of Oregon said at a press conference.