Television crews and reporters wedged themselves among the crowd of party faithful to cover the National Council for a New America’s first event at a packed pizza parlor in an Arlington, Va., strip mall. The resulting coverage dominated cable news chatter for the next week. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney were also on board.
But the council has since flamed out – at least publicly.
Since its launch, the National Council hasn’t held a single public event, despite more than 5,000 invitations to take their show out on the road. Congressional ethics rules limit what Cantor can do with the group because he launched it from his leadership office, making it harder to organize events and recruit partners. Despite that caution, the group is still taking heat from outside watchdog groups that argue he is violating the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of those rules…
Its biggest event since the launch has been a webcast to about 100,000 online visitors to Pajamas TV, a conservative website. The Council plans to hold future events with Pajamas TV in the fall, and it is looking to establish partnerships with other Beltway media organizations, including Politico. Members of Cantor’s staff are also processing the 5,000 invites to figure out a good spot to hold the next forum, but ethics rules make traveling in support of the National Council more difficult than if it were a campaign-related activity.
Democrats – and some Republicans – have since derided the group for failing to capitalize on the early buzz. The Democratic National Committee issued nine press releases slamming the group shortly after its launch.