ABC News’ Kim Berryman reports: On the heels of a turbulent week for his party, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) told ABC News today that he is not worried about losing seats to Republicans as a result of healthcare this year.
“I don’t think there are any districts in the country where the outcome of this great debate on healthcare reform is going to cost someone their seats,” Van Hollen declared just days after a recent poll showed Americans are losing confidence in the majority party.
After picking up 54 Republican seats in the 2006 and 2008 cycles, Democrats are poised to mostly play defense this year. However, the DCCC Chairman highlighted today some places where he believes his party can play competitive offense. Van Hollen announced the initial races added to the DCCC’s Red to Blue program today. The committee is targeting 13 Republican held seats in hopes of moving them to the Democrats’ column this year. Of course, voters are well aware that healthcare reform and unemployment remain a messy congressional knot yet to be untied. ABC’s Rick Klein pressed Van Hollen on how he expected to succeed in the Red to Blue endeavor given the context.
“One thing people do not want is to turn back the clock to the same economic policies that got us into this fix to begin with… . That’s the position of most independents, certainly Democrats and there are a lot of Republicans who don’t want to go back to the Bush economic policies,” he said.
Adding that voters would likely remain loyal to Democrats because “the best evidence of what our Republican colleagues will do if … they were to have control of the House is what they did before and I don’t think anybody wants to go back to that.”
Democratic leadership is not only concerned with converting Republican votes in November but also with convincing some of their members to alter their decisions on the looming healthcare bill. Ultimately, the much debated bill will not pass unless some Democrats who voted “no” in November, can now be counted as a “yes.”
Van Hollen said starting over on healthcare reform is not an option.
“We cannot start over again because the insurance companies aren’t starting over again. They keep sending new rate hikes,” pushing many Americans to the brink of bankruptcy he said. In Van Hollen’s mind, these rate increases and the corresponding constituent phone calls to Congress are what will turn the tide.
Increasing calls or not, Van Hollen and others may have their work cut out for them as previous “no” votes like Dennis Kucinich are citing other reasons for their steadfast positions on the bill.
You can see all of Chris Van Hollen’s comments from today’s Top Line HERE.