ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Democrats this week launched a new effort to frame the fall campaign, rolling out what they’re calling the “Republican Tea Party Contract on America” – rolling some of the more controversial planks endorsed by tea partiers this year into an imagined GOP campaign agenda.
It amounts to a full-on assault by national Democrats on the Tea Party movement, the source of much of the Republican enthusiasm in this fall’s congressional elections.
On ABC/Washington Post’s “Top Line” today, we asked the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tim Kaine, what the new effort has to do with arguments about whether Democrats should be kept in power in Congress.
“It’s because the election’s a choice, guys,” Kaine told us. “And so what we’re doing is we’ve rolled out this Contract on America, which I think has two basic points. First, the Republican Party and the Tea Party are now fused. There isn’t any real meaningful difference between them. And second, the Tea Party-Republican Party agenda has been laid out by officeholders and marquee candidates, and in these 10 areas, which are way outside the mainstream — you know, repealing health reform, repealing Wall Street form, privatizing Social Security, dramatic changes to Medicare. This is how these guys would govern.
“This isn’t our only campaign strategy,” he added. “The other campaign strategy is to talk about the heavy lifting that Democrats, the members in Congress and the White House have been doing to do great things that are starting to turn this nation around from the worst economy since the 1930s. And whether it’s, you know, health care for 4 million more kids, the health care reform bill, you know, the work that’s been done on the stimulus to get the economy from shrinking to growing, the Democrats are going to be running on our accomplishments, but pointing out, there’s a huge choice between moving forward and going backward.”
Though some Republicans have characterized the new effort as an attempt to target voters – specifically, tea-party activists — Kaine said it’s nothing of the sort.
“It’s not really the activists,” he said. “It’s the agenda of these marquee candidates. We’re generally through the primaries now, and what we’re pointing out is, if Republicans gain control — which they’re going around saying they’re gonna do, of one or both houses [of Congress] — they’re gonna govern differently. And pointing out to the American public how they would govern is the issue.”
“We need to point out to the American public: We’re gonna govern one way. The other guys are gonna take back all these gains and govern the other way,” Kaine said.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs took a beating from fellow Democrats earlier this month when he acknowledged that control of the House is up for grabs this fall. Kaine said that while that may be “mathematically” possible, it’s not going to happen.
“What Gibbs said, I think, was — look, mathematically, it’s in play. There’s a lot of seats that are– that are in jeopardy and that folks are going after. The other side’s spending tons of money,” Kaine said.
“Our goal is: We’re gonna hold onto the House. And if we play our cards right, I think we can hold onto the House by a margin that gives us some real comfort. The other guys are saying they’re gonna take both houses. We’re gonna hold onto both, and that ‘s what we’re up to. But the good news is, about the DCCC and about the DNC, in terms of what we’re putting in: We’re not taking it for granted. We’re not — we’re not just gonna play in a few races and, you know, and whistle going into November. We know it’s a tough climate out there. We know there’s a historic headwind. The party in power in midterms, traditionally, faces that headwind, and the headwind’s stiffer when the economy is tough. So we’re — we’re raising the money, and we’re doing what we need to do to be very, very competitive and hold onto the majorities.”
“We’re the underdog types, and we work harder, we work hungrier, and we’re gonna work smarter,”
Kaine also stopped short of calling on embattled Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., to resign.
“It’s a very unfortunate situation,” he said. “My hope is still that there’s gonna be a resolution worked out between Congressman Rangel and the committee, and I’m hoping that that’s the case. … That really is for him to resolve, and I’m not gonna spend too much time commenting about it. You know, these are serious matters.”
Watch the full interview with DNC Chairman Tim Kaine HERE.
Also on today’s “Top Line,” we chatted with the brand-new host of ABC’s “This Week,” Christiane Amanpour, about her plans for the Sunday-morning program, and her upcoming interviews with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on her debut program this weekend.
Watch the discussion with Christiane Amanpour HERE.