Pence: Republican Protesters 'Don't Need' 'Mainstream Media'

     The mainsteam media continue to ignore the pro-oil-drilling protest by the House GOP. But Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and one of the leaders of the protest, says it doesn’t matter.


     Pence, along with Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., addressed the media coverage of the protest they are waging against the congressional Democratic leaders at an August 8 newsmaker breakfast. Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have prevented an up-or-down vote on expanding offshore oil exploration and drilling.


     “We don’t need to be on the mainstream media,” Pence said. “I think the switchboard at the Capitol is melting. Quite frankly, you know, I went home to the state fair and went to the ham breakfast, which starts at 6 a.m. There were 300 farmers from all 92 counties of Indiana. There was no mention made from the podium about our protest, but I stood up and simply said, ‘It’s an honor to be here with the governor and the lieutenant governor.’ And I said, ‘Quite frankly, it’s just nice to be speaking where the lights are on and it brought the house down – people from all 92 counties.”


     Pence said that based on what he has seen – the GOP protest didn’t need media coverage from the major networks. His remarks were part of a breakfast presentation to a breakfast held by American Spectator and Americans for Tax Reform at the U.S. Capitol.


     “I was talking to our leader, [Ohio Republican] John Boehner, later in the day and he was as struck with that as I was,” Pence said. “This is reaching the American people – whether NBC, CBS, ABC decide to do much with it – I’m not interested.”


     He attributed the protest’s high profile to “the new media” – the Internet, cable news and talk radio.


     “The new media – much of which is gathered around this table and cable television media and talk radio has taken this to the country,” Pence said. “I just think we got to right now focus that enormous energy across the country.”


     Pence, a former radio and TV host, said he encouraged people to call their congressman, especially Democrats, and urged media in attendance to encourage the same.


     Fellow Hoosier Rep. Dan Burton suggested it would be worthwhile if presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain would start using some of the rhetoric about the congressmen’s actions in his campaign. On August 5, Rep. Jeff Shadegg, R-Ariz., invited McCain to speak on the House floor as part of the protest.


     “I think if Sen. McCain were to say somewhere on the campaign trail that the Republicans who are having this – these ad hoc meetings in the House are trying to force a vote on an energy bill that will help the American people get their gas prices down – I think that would be a real plus for him and I think it would put enormous pressure, additional pressure on [Speaker of the House Nancy] Pelosi,” Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., said.


     Following the breakfast and call-to-order of the shadow Congress in the House chambers, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., whose district sits on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, where some of the federal lands debated for exploration are, told the Business & Media Institute he thought the message was reaching voters. He insisted it was up to members of Congress to do more, instead of relying on the media.


     “I think the message is getting out,” Miller said. “I do think we need to do more than just what we’re doing here. You know what’s interesting is when you go out into Statuary Hall in the Rotunda and you invite people to come on the floor – they’re so excited to come in and not just witness it based on a sound clip that the media happens to put up. They can actually see and hear what’s going on.”


     He encouraged members to engage with their constituents in one-on-one forums and that would make sure the word would get out.


      “And so, you know, I think we need to go out, certainly continue what we’re doing on the floor,” Miller said. “It’s my hope that we will continue doing it throughout the entire break. But we need to go out into the districts, out into the country and regional areas and hold town hall meetings or field hearings if we can and make sure this word actually gets into the homes of some of those people that are refusing to come back up here.”


     Miller said he welcome members from the Democratic Party to come and debate their point-of-view, but he said they didn’t have an argument.


     “Because – there’s nothing that prevents somebody who is opposed to this, or the Democrats that are opposed to this, from coming to the floor and presenting their side of the, of the argument,” Miller added. “They have no argument – they just want to follow their speaker’s lead and she says you’re not going to speak.”