Facing an election wave that is likely to sweep Democrats out of power in the House of Representatives -- and possibly even in the Senate -- Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey insisted, "This is not 1994."
In an exclusive interview on "This Week today, anchor Christiane Amanpour asked Menendez, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, if the 2010 midterms would be reminiscent of the 1994 election when Democrats lost eight seats in the Senate and 52 in the House.
No, Menendez said, explaining, "The Republican brand, its image, was much better than it is today. In every poll, Democrats, as a brand, fare much better. Secondly, in 1994, it was a surge at the end. "We've known that this midterm was going to be challenging so our candidates for the U.S. Senate have been ready for this and have been creating a contrast in each election between their Republican opponent who wants to bring us back to the economic policies that brought us into this mess in the first place, and their own policies that are working to get us out of it," Menendez said.
Said Amanpour: "You're saying you're blaming the economy on the president's predecessor, but clearly the voters are not saying that."
"Christiane, we understand that people are hurting in this country," Menendez said. "But our goal is to have them understand and channel their anger on Election Day against the Republican Party that brought us to the verge of economic collapse."
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, denied that party leaders had essentially given up on Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller, as ABC News' Jon Karl reported this morning.
"We are supporting the nominee of our party, which is Mr. Miller," he said. "I think that polls are very close now between Senator Murkowski and Joe Miller, and what we want to make sure of is that the Democrat doesn't win … in November."
GOP "party leaders have essentially given up on Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller and are now banking on a victory by write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski as the best bet for Republicans to keep the Alaska Senate seat," Karl reported this morning, quoting a source.
Amanpour asked about how he saw the whole Senate race playing out Tuesday.
Cornyn admitted that Republicans' taking the Senate was probably out of reach. "I'm not predicting we will get the majority this cycle; I think it's probably going to take two cycles," he said.
"But there certainly is a potential there, depending on how high and how broad this wave election is."
Asked about bipartisanship, he said, "What we need to be focusing on is jobs, spending and debt," not answering Amanpour's question.
When pressed by Amanpour about the potential of gridlock in Congress, Cornyn said, "I don't think gridlock is going to be acceptable, when it comes to runaway spending and unsustainable debt and 9.6 percent unemployment.
"The administration and Democrats, who have been in charge now in the House and Senate for four years and in the White House for two years, don't want to seem to accept any responsibility," he said. "I think that's what this election is about."