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August 06, 2013

Morning Read: BuzzFeed Calls Welch "Republicans' Favorite House Liberal"

MorningreadWhich member of Vermont's congressional delegation travels to the Middle East with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor? Hikes in the Grand Canyon with Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.)? Steals popcorn from the Republican cloakroom?

Here's a hint: It sure ain't Bernie Sanders.

Splashed across BuzzFeed's homepage this morning — right above a pair of stories titled "15 Experiences EVERYONE Should Have In College" and "11 Fascinating Facts You Never Knew About Dogs" — is an improbable homage to the apparent bipartisan street cred of Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

"Meet Republicans' Favorite House Liberal," the story is called. 

Not the most compelling link bait we've seen, but hey!

Rather than join "the partisan bickering that's come to define the House," writes BuzzFeed's Capitol Hill reporter, Kate Nocera, "the soft-spoken Vermonter has taken a different route and gone out of his way to befriend GOP members."

Welch.BuzzFeedThat hasn't quite solved the country's debt crisis, Nocera acknowledges, but it came in handy nearly two years ago when Welch sought funding for Vermont after the state was traumatized by Tropical Storm Irene:

Welch called everyone “who had a whisper of Irene” in their districts and found an important ally in New York Republican Chris Gibson. The pair started an Irene relief working group, and eventually worked to come up with a solution and convince Cantor to come along.

“He made a difference, he really made a difference. This was a meeting of three people: Peter, myself, and Eric Cantor,” said Gibson. “He’s an effective communicator, he listens well, he’s respectful and he helped shape that legislation even as a member of the minority.” 

To convince Cantor he was serious, Welch sided with Republicans on a procedural vote when Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had been working hard to keep Democrats united.

The price? Welch had to accompany Cantor and a crew of Rs to Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Click here to read the story.

Disclosure: Paul Heintz worked as Peter Welch’s communications director from November 2008 to March 2011, during which time he constantly pitched reporters — usually without success — to write fluffy stories like this one.

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