Chair McMorris Rodgers in POLITICO Playbook


January 11, 2013

THE JUICE – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of eastern Washington, new chair of the House Republican Conference (#4 in House GOP), is the highest-ranking woman in Congress. The fifth-termer sat down with Playbook in her Conference office in Cannon: “Coming out of the 2012 election, there’s a renewed focus among Republicans on messaging and communication and the importance of just better connecting with people … It is recognizing the changing demographics, and making sure that people understand, from different backgrounds and different experiences, exactly what Republicans are about … Yes, it’s getting our members on TV shows and get those interviews, and radio. … But it’s so much more than that. … I want to do a lot more as far as getting our members out front and really highlighting their experiences, their expertise, and making sure that people know who they are. So I’m personalizing it more. …

“I want us to be articulating those aspirational goals that we have, so that the debate isn’t just a matter of … going down on the House floor and the Republicans lining up on one side and Democrats lining up on the other. But that we are putting this debate in terms of how it applies to these aspirational goals that we have for America, so that we’re thinking beyond just the crisis of the moment. … We have to modernize, as Republicans, not moderate.”

–As Conference Vice Chair beginning in ’08, McMorris Rodgers started an annual House Republican “New Media Challenge”: “It’s fashioned after the NCAA playoff. So, whoever signs up, we put them in the brackets, and then we get down to the final four … One week it would be how many new Facebook friends, or next week it’s tweets or YouTube subscribers.”

–AFTER HOURS: Whether McMorris Rodgers is in D.C. or back home, Thursday night is “date night” – usually dinner and a movie — with her husband, Brian Rodgers, a retired 26-year active-duty Navy commander. Their two children are Cole and Grace: “The best thing that’s happened since I was elected to Congress was getting married and becoming a mom and having a 2-year-old little girl and a 5-year-old little boy.”