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D.C. Notebook: Lee says GOP needs to focus on poor

Published June 17, 2013 4:52 pm

Politics • Utah senator says Republican principles demand more connection with those on the 'bottom rungs.'
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To gain back the majority in the Senate, Republicans have to champion families and reach out to the poorest Americans, said Sen. Mike Lee in a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition last week.

Republican leaders have said the party needs to extend a hand to minorities, but few have made such a strong case to reach out to low-income Americans, who tend to support Democratic candidates.

Lee described it not as a political imperative but an ideological one.

"Our ideals demand we identify even more with those Americans still on the bottom rungs, where the climbing is harder, dangerous and lonely," he told the conservative group.

"We need to stand up for those Americans no one else will: for the unborn child in the womb; for the poor student caught in the failing school; for the reformed father languishing in prison and the fatherless son facing alone the dangers of the street; for the single mom working two jobs but still ensnared in big-government poverty traps; for the elderly and the disabled, dehumanized by bureaucracy; and for the splintering neighborhoods that desperately need them all. These families, these moms and dads and grandparents and kids — they're waiting for us."

Flip side • While Utah Republicans have found themselves in a tight spot on whether to call for Utah Attorney General John Swallow to resign, a similar, although politically opposite situation, is playing out in Washington.

The Hill newspaper approached Utah Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson last week to ask him whether he still had confidence in U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has come under fire from Republicans for a bunch of scandals, including the tapping of Associated Press reporters' phones.

Matheson, though, didn't want to weigh in.

"I don't think I want to talk about this right now," The Hill quoted him as saying while he walked from his office to a bank of elevators.

"Now's really not a very good time," added an unnamed aide.

At least Matheson now knows what it feels like to be a Utah Republican.

Early polls show Matheson up • The national parties have released dueling polls that show Rep. Jim Matheson with a lead in his rematch with GOP challenger Mia Love, but with 18 months until the next election, it's hard to determine the takeaway message from these surveys.

Well, other than the parties clearly believe the fight in Utah's 4th Congressional District is one to watch closely.

The National Republican Congressional Committee poll, which sought to tie Matheson to President Barack Obama, found him with a narrow 3 percentage point lead over Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs — 44 percent to 41 percent.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's survey had Matheson up by 14 percentage points — 54 percent to 40 percent.

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Burr and Canham report from Washington, D.C. They can be reached at tburr@sltrib.comor mcanham@sltrib.comor via Twitter@thomaswburror@mattcanham.






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