Top Democrat advises candidates to skip convention
June 27th, 2012
11:55 AM ET
2 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. California

    Hussein is finished. He will go down like ObamaCare is about to. The mandate is the main issue.

    June 27, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    Why are all the Democrats so paniced if everything is so great?! Private sector is doing fine according to Obama and many in here jumped in to agree. Of course the 15-20 million unemployed might tend to disagree with that clueless conclusion.

    Why aren't the American people happy with trillion dollar deficits forever? Don't they know we can borrow and spend on government entitlements forever and ever??? They don't need to worry because their kids are good for the money!

    Why aren't the American people happy with Obamacare and the destruction of their healthcare system to make it happen? The Democrats know better what you need and you just don't need what you think you need so they are redirecting it for you. No problem there, just quiet down and trust them!

    June 27, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. Believe NOT in America, but believe in EUROPE - French excuse and Swiss bank accounts

    Obama is beating Rmoney in most polls and will beat him hands down in November. That should not stop any democratic candidate for senate from focusing on his/her own election.

    The Montana GOP candidate for the senate is skipping the convention in Florida but you wont hear that on CNN/FOX. They wont also tell you why potential running mates are keeping a distance from Rmoney.

    June 27, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. lovetheusaorleave

    LOL the DNCC can try to spin any way they want but people see the boat sinking and want to get off

    June 27, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Henry Miller

    "If they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts,"

    More like if they want to win an election, they need to stay far, far, away from Obama.

    How about this–every Democrat who voted for Obamacare, go to the convention. It's likely one of the last few times you can be together.

    June 27, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  6. DJR

    Pretty simple reason for this folks. We the People, if smart will set a new agenda, term limits, starting November, all incumbents go. Turn it ALL around or get gone! Vote out all incumbents.

    June 27, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  7. Robert

    I'm not exactly an Obama fan but I'm really looking forward to him winning if for no other reason than I get to see all you bigots whine for another four years. It's like watching a pathetic little pity parade as you all console each other and rant on about the communist muslim in the White House. It must really grind your gears to know that a member of a race you feel to be inherently inferior to your own is the most powerful man in the free world while you're still flipping burgers and living in your mom's basement.
    Thanks for the chuckles...

    June 27, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. JustMe

    "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."

    I don't buy that for one second. The President knows what tough re-election battles some of these people are in and it has already been reitterated multiple times that this has NOTHING to do with the President's poll numbers.

    June 27, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. NOT2BLUE

    Democrats being spineless little weasles will come back to haunt them. HOW DARE they boycott their own convention!!! I'm changing my registration from Democrat to Independent. I'm tired of these whimps!

    June 27, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  10. josh gonzalez

    Democrats should do what they think is right. It might be a good strategy to stay in their districts. I doubt very many GOP incumbents are enthusiastic about spending time with the outsourcing pioneer Mitt Romney.

    June 27, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. JustMe

    I'm not exactly an Obama fan but I'm really looking forward to him winning if for no other reason than I get to see all you bigots whine for another four years. It's like watching a pathetic little pity parade as you all console each other and rant on about the communist muslim in the White House.

    I feel the same way. Not to mention that Romney would be an absolute disaster.

    June 27, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  12. Toughlove

    Political dishonesty: Holder and executive order
    Political expediency: faulty immigration changes to get votes
    Political pettiness: hurting AZ citizens by pulling cooperation to fight illegal immigration
    Political impotency: no budget even with both senate and house in first two years
    Political failure: our economy still in shambles

    ROUGH, ROUGH, ROUGH FOR ALL OF US!

    June 27, 2012 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  13. keith

    Obama whips mittens whether one or ALL democratic congress persons attend the convention or not. Mittens wouldn't make a good dog catcher.

    June 27, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Cheryl Jefferies

    Dems may be stupid, but they're not suicidal fools. And, Joe Biden said, in a speech today: "the economy is a DEPRESSION for many, many Ameicans." Looks like Joe isn't quite the fool I thought he was. And, quite a few Dems in the House are "crossing the aisle" tomorrow on the Holder contempt vote. Looks like Obama's "bad month" is continuing.

    June 27, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. independent

    Please explain the logic of not being there to support the President. Are they going to be watching the convention with their constituents from the district to explain why they should vote for the President?
    A grass-roots full court press would be useful. If that is what this is, then it makes sense.

    June 27, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. Mike

    It's a lame-duck convention. There is literally no point to it.

    The prospects of the GOP in control of all branches of government is enough to get out the vote for the left. Those running tight races should spend time in their districts and not at some superfluous party in NC.

    With that said, I find the fact that the right is somehow making a collaboration between them not attending the convention to them not supporting the president. Keep dreaming you desperate fools.

    For the record, Romney lost almost 10 points of favorability nationwide this past month due to his inability to have any kind of actual policy details about the immigration debacle on top of the women fleeing the GOP in droves; Obama is up 2% on InTrade as well. Keep grasping at those straws, GOP.

    June 27, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    Speaking of lies from Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest of those delusional 'tards on the right:

    Where's all the reporting about gas prices going down? Where's all the credit being given to President Obama for this? If the above list was willing to blame the President for gas prices going up, certainly they would give him credit for prices going down – right?

    Oh, wait, that would mean saying something positive about the President ...

    Wake up, people, and accept the FACT that the right cares more about winning in November than about our country and her long-term well-being.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    June 27, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    Mike – For the record, Romney lost almost 10 points of favorability nationwide this past month
    =========================================================================
    A total lie. What is the source of your fiction?

    Obama is up 2% on InTrade as well. Keep grasping at those straws,
    =====================================================
    Oh honestly.... your second statement pretty much sums up your first!!! hahahahaha

    June 27, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  19. Realitybites

    For a body of government who's approval rating is much less than 1/2 of the President, why would someone conclude that any of them would do this to avoid the person with the much higher rating?

    Second point – Did anyone read that the same advice was given in 2008?

    When I read many of these comments I am more certain that I'm living in a land saturated with idiots.

    June 27, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. craig

    Times have changed, and the real question is simple: What does anyone gain by being there? In fact, other than perhaps a moment of face time on a TV screen, they gain nothing. The vast majority of viewers, assuming there are any, aren't from their district or state, so that time is relatively worthless. If they are running for (re)election, their time is probably better spent at home, trying to explain why Congress can't get a darn thing done...even the obvious things. Standing around in a big room, listening to speeches that could be more easily heard on television and continually talking with each other doesn't make progress. We already know who's going to be nominated, so the rest is just show.

    June 27, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. drod

    Faux-Noise BS
    "Their decisions have raised questions over whether some Democrats are trying to distance themselves from President Barack Obama this election year. "

    The “Fox/Newsmax Effect” relies on these six steps to create national controversy in order to manipulate the viewer’s opinion.
    1. The first step of creating the “Fox/Newsmax Effect” is to have Conservative activists introduce a lie to the public.
    2. The next step Fox/Newsmax News devotes massive coverage to the story presented.
    3. From here Fox/Newsmax News goes on to attack other news outlets for not covering the story.
    4. Given that these outlets want to remain creditable, they too start reporting the story introduced by Conservative activists.
    5. Now that it seems that Fox/Newsmax News was first to the story they are praised by news critics and pundits for their media coverage on the topic.
    6. The last step, which is the conclusion to all of this, is that the story dies off after the damage has been done.
    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
    SOURCE: Natzi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels

    June 27, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. drod

    FACT.

    Obama will be reelected in November.
    The Recovery will continue.
    The country will prosper once more.
    The Republicans will kick out what's left of the TPotty for their own survival.

    June 27, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    They call Obama a failure and he has got more done without their help. But speaking of failure the republicans got the control of the house in 2010 and what have they done but go after womans health. people gave them a chance to prove that they could get JOBS and turn this economy around and they BLEW IT. The debt ceiling non sense that about stopped the govt over planned parenthood, and caused the credit rating to be down graded was enough, they still didn't learn even after their aproval rating fell to all record lows. They have proven which side they are on 1% and lower tax breaks while the rest of the country waits for them to pass jobs bills and still we suffer and they do not care. Republicas Blew It.

    June 27, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  24. vbscript2

    Why is McCaskill so ardent about spending time in her district now? She'll have plenty of time to spend there after she's replaced next January.

    June 27, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. Andy

    Someone needs to remind these weak spine Dems skipping the convention that Americans can sense and greatly despise a lack of conviction. By skipping the convention they're discouraging their base who won't show up for them at the polls, and the repubs will not vote for them just because they skipped the Democratic convention. Result–most of them will lose their elections. I say good riddance!

    June 27, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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