They tried to put a brave public face on. But, as they gathered in Pittsburgh this past weekend, GOP leaders and campaign strategists couldn't hide the fact that they've got their political backs to the wall.
Yes, there was lots of energy at the meeting, but it was the nervous energy of panicked politicians and operatives who know their luck is running out.
Last week, Democrat Paul Hackett, a political newcomer and Iraqi combat veteran, came within 4,600 votes of winning an Ohio special election in a heavily Republican district. Republican operatives laughed about how easily they could defend this district until Ohio voters shocked them and sent a clear signal of what 2006 holds.
Rick Santorum -- the poster boy for the most extreme elements of the Bush agenda -- was a featured speaker at the GOP meeting. Senator Santorum is trailing Bob Casey, his Democratic opponent, and may be the most vulnerable Republican in the country.
And, Karl Rove, whom George W. Bush calls the "architect" of his political success, wasn't anywhere to be seen at the meeting. Rove likes to show up at Republican gatherings with his divisive rhetoric and schoolboy taunts aimed at the President's opponents. But now, his involvement in exposing the identity of a CIA agent for political revenge has put Rove's bare-knuckles political tactics under intense scrutiny.
The Republican National Committee used its national strategy meeting in Pittsburgh to kick off its drive to survive the most critical elections of 2005 and 2006.
Laughable, except for all those duped into following their half-truths and ad hominem attacks ...