Washington (CNN) – Pointing to victories in recent special elections, the number two Democrat in the House sought Sunday to buck the conventional wisdom about his party’s prospects in this fall’s midterms.
“I don’t think we’re talking about a big loss,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said on CNN’s State of the Union.
Hoyer told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley that his party has done well in special congressional elections since the passage of the health care bill.
“After the last summer, which was a very hot summer politically, as you recall, we won a number of races during that period of time. Health care was a very hot topic.”
Notwithstanding the potential political fallout from passage of the health care overhaul, Hoyer pointed out that Democrats had won special elections in New York’s 20th and 23rd congressional districts and Pennsylvania’s 12th .
“So we think that, when the real polls are taken, people look at these [arguments on both sides] and say, do I want to return to the Bush policies, which created the worst economy we've seen in three quarters of a century - a time when it was said by economists, if you pursue those policies, worst depression could happen? Or are they going to say, yes, we're angry; yes, we're fearful this economy is not doing what it ought to be doing? We agree with that. We've been working on that.”
Hoyer added, “In the elections that we have seen recently, in this time frame - I don't mean years ago, but I mean in this special election time frame, we've won.”
And, after a week in which tensions appeared to boil over between the Obama administration and House Democrats after remarks by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Democratic prospects in the fall elections, Hoyer both acknowledged and downplayed the strained relationship.
“There's always tension,” Hoyer told Crowley, “… The president and the Democrats in the House and the Democrats in the Senate have the same objective: keep this economy moving and growing; keep moving forward. We have a joint interest in the success of both. And the meeting [at the White House] that we had was a very positive one. And the president has been working hard. Joe Biden's been working hard on behalf of our candidates. And we think we're going to do well.”