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. Investment Advisor

    @ ThinkAgain... You once gave me a bogus spelling lesson....Now I need help again. How do you spell, " The lower gas prices have nothing to do with any Presidential action. Its the function of a faltering global economy." And please show proper punctuation.

    June 27, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Thomas

    It's sad that these are the same politicians that would sign a declaration of war .

    Both the right and the left have become sloth and spineless .

    June 27, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. Investment Advisor

    This is a no brainer...If a candidate is staying home, its because they have a tough fight ahead of them. Why are we and cnn making this a newsworthy piece? And as for some of these comments, people need to get over themselves.

    June 27, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. lib

    As a Democrat I think it is a good idea. We need these folks in office and if they feel that's where they need to be I am in agreement with Ms. Caskill. For the exception of Manchin and the other Democrat who traitoriously announced the did not want to be in the same room as the president because of his decision on the coal bill, I believe the others know there is great work to be done and we need them to win. Obama 2012

    June 27, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Anonymous

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

    That is a very wise policy for both parties.

    June 27, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Dave

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

    That is a very wise policy for both parties.

    June 27, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. lib

    Also, I am sure many republicans will stay home for the reason that they do not like Romney.

    June 27, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. Ralph

    Probable they do not want to be seen next to President Obama...because the virus of unpopularity is contagious.

    June 27, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. dnick47

    Unlike Republican which are authortian and run the Party like a gulag, Democrats have always allowed a wide disparity of views and ideas to enter the Party: there is not a litnus test in the Democratic Party. The Repubs its always: Fall in line or wich to H..l you had" That's is why Republican news organizations are agast that these Dems are staying home because such a act on thier side would spell certain doom; therefore, "Born Again" Christians are falling inline behind an Anti-Christ in the Republican Party while whimpy yellow livered cowards will not attend the Democratic Convention – Yes, cowards is what they and and they deserve to loose their seat to a goose steeping brown shirt.

    June 27, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. Larry L

    I think all members of Congress should spend more time working on issues critical to the American people – not just special interest groups like the N.R.A. and the Tea Party. Lets see a meaningful job-creation plan rather than politics. If the right-wing Supreme Court guts the healthcare law what will the Congress do to help? No more political tricks – get to work!

    June 27, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. Peter

    I think they should cancel BOTH conventions and replace them with a scaled back set of meetings which accomplish the construction of party platform, and that's it.

    The conventions are a HUGE waste of money and are just a big, stupid TV show.

    June 27, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Cliff

    I honestly don't know where I stand on this issue. This year it's imperative that Dems keep and gain seats in the House more than at any other time. So I understand the reason not to go BUT I seriously doubt that 1 week away will make or break their Campaigns and it further proves my point that Dems lack the united front that Republicants have. Which is to bad. But it's always been the Dem way sadly. All for themselves and to afraid of a fight with the other side. And yes I'm Dem. Will Vote Obama but I have little respect for Dems as fighters. I loathe Republicants but I admire their ability to squabble behind closed doors and openly always pose a United front.

    June 27, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  13. wolfpackbob

    Maybe President Obama will skip the convention to distance himself from President Obama?

    June 27, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  14. Christian

    @Larry L – I find it funny that you call the SCOTUS right-wing. This is the same right-wing court that just, for all intents and purposes, just struck down the vast majority of the AZ immigration law.

    June 27, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Vidyashanti

    If congressmen did their job right and kept in touch with voters they need not worry. 4 days are not a big deal.

    Okay, they may not want to spare 4 days, how about the last 2 days when party nominee accepts the nomination.

    To support the opportunistic people like these is tough.

    June 27, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. mrpopular

    What??? and miss all the parties!!! No way!!

    June 27, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Jean Sartre

    Yes, stay in their district and talk with WE THE PEOPLE!

    But then, IF you are fortunate enough to get elected, go and do the PEOPLE'S BUSINESS; that does NOT mean voting the way the gun nuts in the NRA want you to vote!

    June 27, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  18. Jean Sartre

    Investmen Advisor-

    Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    IF, as ALL REPUBLICANS state,that the high prices for gas are all Obama's fault, then why is the lowering of gas prices not Obama's doing?

    You folks have some fairly twisted logic, inherent in all your Republican "Talking Points..."

    June 27, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. the year of the pathetic election

    This is one of the most ridiculous election times I have seen. Little has to do with what is good for the country. It's more like "what's best for my pocket book".

    June 27, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. Leigh2VA

    That's never stopped them from attending the conventions before. So why is it a problem now? Oh, wait! I think I have a very good idea as to 'why'.

    June 27, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    Maybe the Democrats should just cancel their convention since it looks like Obama is the ONLY one that really wants to go to it?!!! You'll save a lot of money AND nobody will have to been with your presidential embarrasment!!

    June 27, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  22. Willie12345

    Everyone should listen to Hilary Rosen. The lady really knows her stuff since she started hanging around with Rev. Al Sharpton..

    June 27, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. Independent

    Larry L – Why don't you tell that to Obama? All he does is campaign while our country to going down the drain!

    June 27, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. Leigh2VA

    Senator Manchin is wise to not attend...since Obama and his administration want to basically gut the Coal Industry in WV.

    June 27, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. Alina1

    Dems are doing the right thing, "Live today to fight tomorrow". I never liked that Obama has to run around collection money for his campaign instead of working, but that's what the Supreme Court had done to our politics, unfortunately we will see many other Presidents running around worried about the money instead of us.

    June 27, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
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