ABC News' David Chalian Reports: One week after RNC Chairman Michael Steele took to the airwaves on Fox News Channel and stated that Republicans would not win back control of the House this year, the number two Republican in the House told reporters he strongly disagrees.
"We believe we can win the majority," Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., told a gathering of political reporters Tuesday night. Rep. Cantor, who has been predicting a Republican takeover for months, was joined by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to help clean up Chairman Steele's more pessimistic prediction.
The two House Republican leaders were extraordinarily bullish on their party's prospects for November's midterm elections, but conceded all the pieces have yet to fall into place for them to win the 40 seats necessary to send the Democrats back to the minority.
Rep. McCarthy, who heads up the GOP recruiting this cycle, said that the Republicans are hoping to secure a few more Democratic retirements for a total of 15-17 (the current count is at 11) and working to step up their fundraising totals to be in a position to have a shot at the majority. McCarthy went on to describe the path to victory as winning 70 percent of the Democratic open seats and defeating 10% - 15% of Democratic incumbents.
Democrats have long argued that 2010 will not like be 1994 in part because they are far more prepared than their Democratic brethren were 15 years ago. "We were prepared in 2006 and it didn't matter," said McCarthy. "And we have better seats to run in than we did in 1994," he added.
One message the Republicans plan to hammer home this election year is that a vote for them is a vote for a check against one party rule and President Obama's policy initiatives.
Rep. Cantor also suggested that the budget and guns votes that proved fatal for Democrats in 1994 have found their 2010 parallel in the stimulus, cap and trade, and health care votes Democrats cast last year.
The congressmen also believe the anticipated Democratic argument that Republicans will return the country to the George W. Bush era if they retake the House will not have much sway with the public due to the "aggravated circumstances" Americans find themselves in today regarding jobs and the economy and the "unfettered power" Democrats currently hold.
However, there seems to be some awareness on Rep. Cantor's part that George W. Bush can still be a potential drag on the GOP. When asked if Republican candidates are asking for George Bush to campaign for them, Cantor quickly replied with a smile. "George P.?," he asked.
Although Cantor and McCarthy didn't appeared too concerned about the overall Republican brand being at a low-point ("Conservative is the #1 brand," said McCarthy), Rep. Cantor acknowledged a need for the GOP to attract non-white voters. "Demographics demand we become a more inclusive party," Cantor said.