Rep. Cole hopes to take back Congress for GOP

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), the only Native American in Congress, is the new chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

It's up to Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, to reclaim Congress for Republicans. The prognosis isn't good, with public approval of the GOP and President Bush rather low.

But Cole, a former director of the Republican National Committee and the Oklahoma GOP, says it's not all that bad. He says Republicans lost Congress over Iraq, corruption scandals and overreaching.

"People who argue that we lost because we weren't true to our base, that's just wrong," Cole tells The Washington Post.

Cole says he will appeal to moderate and swing voters. He says House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is too liberal for America.

But that doesn't mean voters will automatically flock to the GOP. The Post recounts a discussion Cole had with a fellow tribal member, Bill Kirtley, over the war in Iraq.

"I've been a registered Republican for 20 years, but I'm so ashamed of the party," Kirtley told Cole. "What are we doing in Iraq? Anyone with any sense can see this is crazy."

Cole spent "the next 20 minutes" defending the war effort but Kirtley wasn't swayed. "Tom's a good man," Kirtley later told the paper. "But he's a Republican congressman, and they've just lost their way."

Get the Story:
A New Pitchman -- and a New Pitch (The Washington Post 5/9)

Relevant Links:
National Republican Congressional Committee -
Rep. Tom Cole -

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