GOP memo says party must embrace blue-collar support, condemn 'minuscule minority' who oppose new direction


A memo from the chairman of the Republican Study Committee on how House Republicans can take back the majority – which was shared this week with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – says the GOP should fully embrace its transformation to a blue-collar party. 

The memo, written by Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., says former President Donald Trump gave the GOP a “gift” in that it is now “supported by most working-class voters” and that its hopes for future political success rest in continuing to embrace that style of politics. 

Banks handed McCarthy a hard copy of the memo this week. 

“President Trump gave the Republican Party a political gift: we are now the party supported by most working-class voters. The question is whether Republicans reject that gift or unwrap it and permanently become the Party of the Working Class,” the memo says. 

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., appears on Fox News. Banks handed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy a memo this week that says the GOP must focus on blue-collar workers to win in 2022, and that it needs to distance itself from members who don't back former President Donald Trump. (Credit: Fox News)

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., appears on Fox News. Banks handed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy a memo this week that says the GOP must focus on blue-collar workers to win in 2022, and that it needs to distance itself from members who don’t back former President Donald Trump. (Credit: Fox News)

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“After five years, it’s clear this reversal isn’t a temporary realignment contingent on Donald Trump’s presence in the White House – both parties are undergoing coalitional transformations,” it also reads. 

The memo outlines a handful of poll numbers, including that 57% of White blue-collar workers supported Republicans in 2020 as compared to 45% in 2010. Meanwhile, Black blue-collar support for Republicans more than doubled over the same time period and Hispanic blue-collar support for the GOP increased from 23% to 36%. 

Republicans, if they are to take advantage of this change, the memo says, should focus on immigration, trade, anti-wokeness, and hammering big tech and Wall Street. 

“Democrats abandoned working-class voters for multinational corporations and an elitist, ‘woke’ social agenda. Working Americans deserve a political party that speaks for them and their interests,” Banks told Fox News in a statement on the memo. “House Republicans can fill that void and cement our party as the Party of the Working Class by uniting around the policies that drew working Americans to the GOP in 2016 and 2020.”

Banks added: “If we do that, we’ll sweep the floor in 2022 and 2024.”

Banks and McCarthy notably appeared together at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for a panel where both emphasized the importance of blue-collar workers to the future of the GOP. 

“There’s a new poll that came out and it literally says the Republican Party grew with blue-collar workers because it was the forgotten man and woman that Donald Trump listened to, the voice that no one else would listen to. And we’re never going to forget those people,” McCarthy said at the panel. 

Banks further tells McCarthy, R-Calif., in the memo that Republicans must distance themselves from those who have been resistant to the changes in the party, as those individuals, Banks says, “are intentionally sabotaging Republicans’ political future.”

“There is an embittered and loud minority in the GOP that finds our new coalition distasteful, but President Trump’s gift didn’t come with a receipt. Members that want to swap out working-class voters because they resent President Trump’s impact on the GOP are wrong,” the memo says. 

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It continues: “The vast majority of the Republican conference doesn’t want to return to a GOP era that neglects working-class voters. Those that do are a miniscule minority in our conference, but they risk undoing the gains we all made with working-class voters. That’s why their behavior should be condemned by party leaders.”

Having GOP leadership actively condemn Republicans who distance themselves from Trump and the party’s populist direction is the most significant change from what McCarthy is already doing that Banks suggests in the memo.

In this Jan. 21, 2021, photo, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCarthy has said the GOP is a "big tent" party. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

In this Jan. 21, 2021, photo, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCarthy has said the GOP is a “big tent” party. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

McCarthy has emphasized that he sees Trump and his supporters as important for the GOP’s future. The GOP leader visited Mar-a-Lago in recent months aiming to mend fences with the former president and recently hired Brian Jack, who was Trump’s White House political director, to lead his political operation. 

But McCarthy has also made clear that even those who don’t support Trump are welcome in the GOP.

The most notable instance of this was when he went to bat for Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., when she faced a vote to remove her as GOP conference chair. Cheney drew the wrath of Trump backers in the GOP conference after she voted to impeach Trump. 

“You elected me leader, let me lead,” McCarthy said in a speech supporting Cheney at a closed-door meeting in February, as he emphasized that not a single incumbent Republican lost a House seat in 2020. 

He’s also said he would support GOP incumbents regardless of their impeachment votes and worked prominently with some, like Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., who was part of the recent House GOP trip to the southern border. Republicans there ripped President Biden for allegedly causing the border crisis with his campaign statements and policies in office. 

“This Republican Party’s a very big tent, everyone’s invited in…we continue to grow and in two years we’ll be in the majority,” McCarthy said at a press conference after Cheney won her vote to remain conference chair by a convincing margin of 145-61. 

Others in the GOP – notably Cheney herself – disagree with both McCarthy and Banks, saying that Trump is actually bad for the Republicans’ electoral prospects and shouldn’t play a role in the future of the party. Some blame Trump for the fact the GOP lost the House, Senate and White House in just four years’ time. 

The Banks memo also lays out various ways Republicans can engage working-class voters, including by holding roundtables with blue-collar constituents and creating a working-class task force in the model of the House China Task Force.

“Our electoral success in the 2022 midterm election will be determined by our willingness to embrace our new coalition,” Banks wrote. “House Republicans can broaden our electorate, increase voter turnout, and take back the House by enthusiastically rebranding and reorienting as the Party of the Working Class.” 

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Banks also says the GOP should use the fact that large corporations donate primarily to Democrats as a talking point when they solicit small-dollar donations. 

“Members should use corporations’ preference for the Democrat Party to drive individual donations,” Banks wrote. 

“Every Republican member in a competitive district should know exactly how much corporate cash their opponent received in 2020, and they should relay those numbers to their constituents,” he added. “The NRCC should arm members with that information and commission advertisements that contrast Republican challengers with corporate-backed Democrat incumbents.”

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Kelly Phares contributed to this report. 

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