Top Democrat advises candidates to skip convention
June 27th, 2012
11:55 AM ET
6 years ago

Top Democrat advises candidates to skip convention

(CNN) - Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the committee charged with getting Democrats elected to the House, is discouraging candidates up for re-election from attending the Democratic National Committee in September.

"If they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts," Israel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said at a Reuters event in Washington on Tuesday, according to the news outlet.

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His remarks came after being asked about several Democratic members of Congress who've announced plans to skip the big gathering this year, set to take place Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their decisions have raised questions over whether some Democrats are trying to distance themselves from President Barack Obama this election year.

The DCCC on Wednesday, however, stood by the chairman's comments, saying Israel's advice wasn't based on the president's poll numbers.

"Spending five days away from voters who can vote for you and donors who can give to you may not be the right decision 75 days out from Election Day," an official with the committee said.

Israel also argued his advice had nothing to do with Obama: "I don't care if the president was at 122 percent favorability right now. I think (candidates) should be in their districts."

He wasn't the first Democratic leader to urge candidates to focus on their districts. In 2008, then-DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen gave the same guidance, telling candidates and incumbents to stay home and fight in the final stretch before November's elections.

However, some analysts say the decision to skip the event can send the wrong message to the party at large.

"It's a dis to the president," Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, said Tuesday. "It's saying 'me associating with you isn't good for me.' It's hard to spin that wheel. But we've seen that in every re-election for years."

The growing list of Democrats forgoing the convention includes Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Rep. Mark Critz of Pennsylvania, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Rep. Kathy Hochul of New York, among others.

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who faces a tough re-election battle, this week became perhaps the biggest name to send regrets.

"I've got a really hard election," McCaskill said. "If you had a really hard election and it was after Labor Day would you go to North Carolina to a bunch of parties and glad-handing or would you stay home and work as hard as you know how to convince Missourians they should rehire you?"

Democrats are also quick to point out that Rep. Denny Rehburg of Montana, a Republican running for Senate this year, has said he plans to pass on the GOP convention in August.

Also see:

McCaskill to skip Democratic convention

Poll: Obama, Romney race still tight

Obama: 'I hope you still believe in me'

Giuliani gives Turner a primary day boost

Filed under: 2012 • DCCC • Democratic National Convention
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If the race is tight and you need your face seen at home, then be there. Why does the GOP see this as a repudiation of Obama? I'd bet there are some Republicans that aren't going to be convention because of tight races.

    June 27, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  2. Robert JM

    Here is a person , a Democrat worthy of praise, who can think with rationale and common sense. Does anyone actually think that anything constructive comes from these conventions? – It great to see people exercise common sense for change- a House and Senate full of Democrats is more importasnt to this country than attending a convention with a forgone outcome!

    June 27, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. macrasta

    I could have told the media weeks ago that this was a proactive move by Dems.... but I guess the story is better for them with an anti-Obama slaint..ummm??

    Obama 2012

    June 27, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. obama victim

    snakes eating heir own

    June 27, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  5. Malory Archer

    S.B. Stein E.B. NJ
    If the race is tight and you need your face seen at home, then be there. Why does the GOP see this as a repudiation of Obama? I'd bet there are some Republicans that aren't going to be convention because of tight races.


    Especially when you consider that only one in six Americans will even admit that they LIKE mittens! Wanna tick off your constituents? Partying with mittens sounds like the perfect opportunity to do just that!

    June 27, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. Malory Archer

    S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If the race is tight and you need your face seen at home, then be there. Why does the GOP see this as a repudiation of Obama? I'd bet there are some Republicans that aren't going to be convention because of tight races.


    I'd be willing to bet that there are some repugs who aren't going because only one in six Americans will even admit that they LIKE mittens and they're worried they'll lose major constituent support by partying with him.

    June 27, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    Top Democrat advises candidates to skip convention
    WOW!!! Now that is somebody that clearly sees the light at the end of the tunnel is NOT the end of the tunnel!!

    FACT is it won't matter if they go to the convention or stay home. Democrats are going to take another history making WHOOPING this November and they are beginning to see that. When an incumbent president admits to being out raised in campaign donations and starts sending out desperation letters, you know there is total panic in the Democrat Party.

    Congrats to Obama, Redi and Pelosi, the far left "progressive"/socialis/communist loons that have destroyed the Democrat Party and turned it into the New Democrat Communist Party. Obama's lawlessness along with the whole Obamacare jam it down their throats fiasco shows the country what the Democrats are all about these days. The American people see Europe going bankrupt at the hands of the socialists and the Democrat Party forcing the USA down the same path and are sayin gloud and clear, NO THANK YOU!

    June 27, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. Four and The Door

    This is the best advice Democrats could get and an easy way for so many of them to start distancing themselves from the Obama Administration. Still, I hope the Mitt Romney does get both a supportive House and Senate since there is a lot of work to do and the quicker it can get started the better off we will all be.

    June 27, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. Woman In California

    This is getting really silly.

    Democrats won in 2008 because we were MAD and if we intend to win again we must get MAD again.
    We need to send a message at the convention that we are fired up and ready to go! If these representatives really support the president, they should be there just as we are for our employers. Let's get behind the president while he continues to fight for ALL Americans.

    Obama 2012 ALL the way.

    June 27, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. California Gary

    Obama will win a second term........what is just as important is for the Dems to pick up as many house and senate seats as they possibly can to make it easier to get some things accomplished during the second term. Those in tight races should absolutely spend every possible moment pounding the pavement and locking down votes.

    June 27, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |

    I wonder if the democrats know something the rest of us don't know ???? Could there possibly be some type of insurrection, or other kind of fireworks in the planning stages.???? HUMPH !!!!!

    June 27, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. Bing

    He really means to win their specific election they need to stay away from the Bermuda Triangle of our economy – Obama

    June 27, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Repubes and foreign corporations have $3 billion to spend against the democrats, I really doubt the convention will be the reason democrats lose. But just in case, I will send my small donations to those who support the president.

    June 27, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. John, PA

    It would not be good to be seen with president Obama if you want to continue your carrier in politics; it would not be good to be seen at the Democratic convention. The rats are leaving the sinking ship; the Democratic party. The 2012 landslide Republican win is coming.

    June 27, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  15. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    if they were going to vote for you they would regardless if you went to a convention or not. Besides Congress hasn't got much done when they are in session so what difference would this make?

    June 27, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    To nuff – Democrats always know something you right wingnuts don't know. The uninformed will always support republicans.

    June 27, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  17. Ray E. (Georgia)

    If all the oeople that are democrats were to vote the party line there would be NO Republicians elected ever! So vote the party line! Why chicken out at the last minute? Could it be that Conservative Principals are the only one's that make sense?? I hate turncoats that sell out. If the Democrat Party isn't working out for you maybe you need to take another look. Is Obama Toast??

    June 27, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I understand what Rep Israel is saying but I most vehemently do not agree.
    NOW is the time for all Democrats to stand together to face down the lies being propagated by the GOP, and to show UNITY of message and support for the President.
    This selfish attitude, if in fact that is what it is, of staying in your districts to get more votes and contributions is not only hogwash but could also very well backfire on them and hurt them and the President come election time.
    Voters could very well interpret their absence as a lack of support and disrespect for the President and thusly "punish" them by not voting for them.
    This is NOT the time to continue thinking about securing individual gain. The whole enchilada is on the balance.
    I will say it AGAIN: United you stand a chance divided you're screwed.
    It's up to you Dems.
    Obama 2012.

    June 27, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  19. Critical Thinking

    The rats are running from the ship, namely the S.S. Obama.

    June 27, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    As governor, Mittens outsourced MA government jobs to foreign countries. He has quite a record of opposing the United States. That is why right wingnuts will vote for him, they want to return to the Bush republican record job loss and near depression, and finish our country off.

    June 27, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  21. Obama 2012 - MOVE Forward America, NOT another round of DUBYA's FAILURES

    why spend time/dollars at a convention where the nominee is a forgone conclusion. Seems pointless.. On the flip side, the Grand Obstructionist Party's upcoming August circus will add fuel to the smoldering... RP is gonna tear that convention a new one, and all of the American people will finally see how they have been duped and lied to by the GOBP for MANY, MANY years. Plutocracy rules OK !

    June 27, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    He's right, don't be dining and wining yourselves while Republicans are at your house stealing your votes.

    June 27, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. Joi Gibson

    Apparently this same advise was given in 2008. So why is CNN making it seem as if these people are not attending because they want to distance themselves from the President. And folks say CNN is the liberal media. HA!!! We need to pick up seats in the House and Senate. Now as for Joe Manchin, he is not attending precisely because he is a DINO in a very red state. Simple.


    June 27, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Walsh

    By all means stay home and talk up the glories of Obamacare, unprecedented unemployment and government spending. Tell all your constituents don't worry Obama is working hard on unilaterally deciding which laws to enforce or not enforce daily.

    June 27, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Hahahahahaha... oh man, what a rudderless ship. It's called PERCEPTION, dude. Your lack of participation gives the impression you're not united. By all means... stay home.

    June 27, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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