The tactic, used by congressional Republicans two decades ago, late in the 1996 campaign, involves running television ads that urge voters to elect a Republican Congress so that Clinton won’t have “a blank check” as president.

“The advice to candidates to stress the ‘’blank check’’ argument is being offered (by field workers from the National Republican Congressional Committee) to Republican candidates who are running below 50 percent in their own polling,” wrote Adam Clymer of the New York Times in late October, 1996.

Clymer noted that an unnamed GOP aide assured campaigns that “that the national Republican headquarters will not be angry with them or cut off their campaign funds if they concede that Mr. Dole will lose and they tried to save themselves.”

Republicans held their House majority that year, losing only three seats even though Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole by 8.5 points.