Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has orders for all those House Democrats who had considered attending the convention in Charlotte this fall: swim away! Yes, rather than go to the DNC in a big display of party unity, the guy tasked with getting Democrats elected to the House wants them to avoid it.
"If they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts," New York congressman Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Reuters Washington Summit on Tuesday.
Israel emphasized that Democratic President Barack Obama's poll ratings - which have hovered around 50 percent - have little to do with his stance.
"I don't care if the president was at 122 percent favorability right now," he said. "I think (candidates) should be in their districts," rather than spend time at the convention, which will be in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 3-6.
"A trip to Charlotte may be interesting," Israel said, "but why leave your districts?"
Of course, this is ONLY because they need to stay in their districts to campaign, and has nothing to do with Obama's tanking popularity. Or the fact that the Dems' chances of reclaiming House majority status are tenuous at best. Or that association with the current president would only further jeopardize that effort. No, of course not!
Sen. Claire McCaskill -- one of Obama's most ardent supporters in 2008 -- is skipping, although she denies it has anything to do with distancing herself from the president. Joe Manchin, too, preemptively announced his abstention, and a handful of other Democratic lawmakers have already declined to join in the fun.
Now, the convention lasts for three days. How preposterous that no one running for office could spare the time to make an appearance, and show support for the president. Typically, this would be their opportunity to ride his coattails, and get a little boost from the media exposure and donor networking that will abound.
Unless, of course, these lawmakers felt that association with him would tarnish their images. So despite what Rep. Israel says, it sure does look like the Democrats are cutting their losses: perhaps they'll lose the presidency, but if they play it safe, maybe they can keep a few seats in Congress.
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