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OPINION

Protests Offer Help, and Risk, for Democrats

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Leading Democratic figures, including party fund-raisers and a top ally of President Obama, are embracing the spread of the anti-Wall Street protests in a clear sign that members of the Democratic establishment see the movement as a way to align disenchanted Americans with their party.
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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s powerful House fund-raising arm, is circulating a petition seeking 100,000 party supporters to declare that “I stand with the Occupy Wall Street protests.”

The Center for American Progress, a liberal organization run by John D. Podesta, who helped lead Mr. Obama’s 2008 transition, credits the protests with tapping into pent-up anger over a political system that it says rewards the rich over the working class — a populist theme now being emphasized by the White House and the party. The center has encouraged and sought to help coordinate protests in different cities.

Judd Legum, a spokesman for the center, said that its direct contacts with the protests have been limited, but that “we’ve definitely been publicizing it and supporting it.”

He said Democrats are already looking for ways to mobilize protesters in get-out-the-vote drives for 2012. “What attracts an organization like CAP to this movement is the idea that our country’s economic policies have been focused on the very top and not on the bulk of America,” Mr. Legum added. “That’s a message we certainly agree with.”

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But while some Democrats see the movement as providing a political boost, the party’s alignment with the eclectic mix of protesters makes others nervous. They see the prospect of the protesters’ pushing the party dangerously to the left — just as the Tea Party has often pushed Republicans farther to the right and made for intraparty run-ins.

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