July 30th, 2014
02:28 PM ET
4 years ago

Top House Democrat: 'You bet we're going to run' on impeachment

Washington (CNN) - Congressional Democrats say they're the gifts that keep on giving.

Rep. Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Wednesday that conservative calls to impeach President Barack Obama and the House GOP's push to sue the President are motivating the Democratic base in advance of November's midterm elections.

"You bet we're going to run on a Congress that is just obsessed with lawsuits, suing the President, talking about impeaching him, instead of solutions for the middle class, talking about jobs and infrastructure. You bet that we're going to ask people to support us based on that contrast," Israel declared at a briefing of CNN political reporters and producers.

Saying that Republicans have "stepped into a mess on this," the seven-term congressman from New York added that "any time voters see contrasts between our priorities and their (the GOP's) priorities, it is beneficial to us. No question about that....we win on contrast."

Last month House Speaker John Boehner announced a lawsuit against Obama, claiming the President violated the Constitution by circumventing Congress and changing the federal health care law's employer mandate on his own. The House is expected Wednesday to approve – along party lines – a resolution authorizing the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee, called for Obama's impeachment, becoming the latest voice on the right to make the suggestion.

On Tuesday, Boehner flatly denied that congressional Republicans are moving to impeach Obama, blasted talk about it as "a scam started by Democrats at the White House."

"We have no plans to impeach the President. We have no future plans," Boehner told reporters after a weekly meeting with GOP members. Boehner has emphasized several times publicly that he disagrees with Palin and other conservatives pushing impeachment over their claims Obama's grossly exceeded his executive authority.

Boehner said "this whole talk about impeachment" comes from "the President's own staff" and from congressional Democrats "because they're trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's elections."

Motivating the base

Israel says talk of impeachment and lawsuit against Obama is motivating the Democratic party's base.

"The phone calls, the emails, people signing up, wanting volunteer on campaigns, has surged literally over the past several weeks. Now it always surges as you get closer to an election, but I'm telling you the August numbers are what the Octobers numbers should be," Israel said.

And he added that "their accusations of presidential overreach have become a Republican overreach and that is motivating swing voters and persuadable voters."

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

When it comes to the battle for the House, Democrats will need all the help they can get this November. The party needs to pick up an extremely challenging 17 Republican-held seats to win back the majority from the GOP. Some of the top non-partisan political handicappers are predicting that instead of the Democrats picking up seats in the midterms, the GOP will make gains.

One reason why is the smaller midterm electorate should favor Republicans. That's because minority voters such as Latinos, and younger people and single women, all of whom are big supporters of Democrats in presidential election years, tend to cast ballots in smaller numbers in the midterms.

Democrats also have to contend with the electorate's six-year itch. The party occupying the White House in the sixth year of a presidential administration almost invariably loses seats in Congress.

And the shrinking number of truly competitive House seats isn't helping matters either.

Republicans are framing the midterms as a referendum on the President and his policies, such as Obamacare.

"I think atmospherics are really bad for the Democrats," Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Roll Call earlier this week. "This is shaping up far more to be a referendum election and not a good one for Democrats."

In the interview, the Oregon Republican predicted that the GOP would pick up 11 House seats in November. That would bring to 245 the number of Republicans in the chamber, the party's largest majority since 1945.

While he won't make his own predictions, Israel is pushing back on Walden's goal.

"Walden says this is a wave. They're in an undertow right now," Israel said.

Bringing in the bucks

One advantage the DCCC has is fundraising.

"We are firing on all cylinders," Israel said.

The DCCC has outraised the NRCC by some $23 million this cycle, and currently has around $8 million more in the bank right now than the NRCC.

And Israel said since Boehner first announced his lawsuit on June 24, the DCCC has raised $7.6 million on-line, with 400,000 donations, including 74,000 new donations.

And to combat the party's midterm turnout problems, Israel said the DCCC's employed a field staff six months earlier than usual, and doubled the budget for the field staff. He added the committee now has 400 field staff in 46 districts, with another 175 coming on board on August 1.

While Israel says the Democrats will run on contrast, he admitted that "we can't just talk about their mistakes. We have to have an alternative to their craziness. And the alternative is the Middle Class Jump Start, a specific package of bills and ideas proposals to address the economic concerns the middle class has."

He said that the DCCC's research shows that the top testing motivators for our base and swing voters are equal pay for women and debt relief for students.

Israel said his message is that while Republicans "got the backs of the special and their self-interests and we've got the backs of the middle class," Democrats stand for "solutions for the middle class," adding "we've got your back."

CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Sara Fischer contributed to this report

Filed under: 2014 • DCCC • House • House Democrats • House Republicans
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Reggie53

    Maybe you democrats would like to impeach Obama but making it look like this is coming from the republicans. They cannot run on their record so that is why they have to make up things to get their base motivated. The democrats are hopeless along with Obama and America can and will do better without them.

    July 30, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. bf

    Just like Dems when they are told its not true they just keep acting like it is and some are dumb enough to believe them. The Democeatic party has turned into the biggest liars I have ever seen. Just like when Schumer got caught on the phone saying just keep saying " Repubs are a do nothing congress over and over again." Sure enough now you have people believing it even though they have passed over 400 bills.

    July 30, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Robert Camacho

    Republicans are insane, that's all I can say!

    July 30, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  4. bf

    Steve Israel needs to be voted out. He is dishonest and we don't need people like him representing the american people!

    July 30, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. sonnie3

    hussein obama should be impeached for sure. He is acting like a school yard bully. He is no leader/ but a great divider.

    July 30, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    The GOPT has been whispering about impeachment from the day this POTUS was first elected in November 08. They follow him around incessantly picking apart every movement and every word he says. They aren't fooling anyone. The only reason they haven't gone for it is, they have no grounds. It's about time the Democrats grew a pair and started fighting fire with fire.

    July 30, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Dean

    The Democrats certainly have no record to run on.

    July 30, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. Chris..E.Al

    The dems want tn impeach and dethrone 0bama? They are wising and waking up to his dirty little trix?

    July 30, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Just like Dems when they are told its not true they just keep acting like it is"

    I can list and quote at least 10 GOP/Teatrolls in the House or Senate or who are prominent GOP/Teatroll activists (e.g., Palin) talking about impeaching Obama or even going so far as to DEMAND his impeachment...and I listed several of them in a previous article. Saying "nuh uh" and 'no way" and "it's not true" doesn't just magically erase such evidence. Everyone knows and understands that Boehner's frivolous lawsuit is not just his alternative to impeachment, but is intended to be his trial balloon for trying to justify impeachment....hoping he can get the conservatives on the SCOTUS to ignore precedent and give him a favorable, blatantly partisan and politicized decision that he can wave around as his "evidence" that Obama deserves impeachment. Impeachment has been "on the table" with the GOP/Teatrolls since January 20, 2009 and their constant witch hunts and show trials conducted by Inspector Issa prove it. Go go gadget BS. The proved in the 90's that they will forevermore attempt to impeach every single Dem POTUS that exists in the future, so long the polls show they can get away with or profit from it.

    July 30, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  10. Ike

    Democrat's motto "We have nothing to sell but fear itself".

    July 30, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Rob Dobson

    He should be impeached! He thinks he's King...changing or not enforcing laws he doesnt like...running around the country whining and golfing...the world is in chaos and this guy has his head in the sand. He is a liar and a hypocrite plain and simple.

    July 30, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Boehner said "this whole talk about impeachment" comes from "the President's own staff" and from congressional Democrats "

    A quick perusal of sites like Breitbart or Red State or Daily Caller or Faux News proves that so wrong it's laughable. What's alarming about it is that the GOP/Teatroll base frequents all of those sites, eats with a spoon every verbal turd that slips from their mouths and the mouths of the GOP/Teatroll congresscritters and activists they're interviewing...and then GLOAT over it...and yet they can, without even breaking a sweat, turn around and lie profusely to deny it all like it never happened. Have you idiots never heard of Google? Or is it that you think only GOPers/Teatrolls know of it and how to use it?

    July 30, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  13. okie

    like Dems when they are told its not true they just keep acting like it is and some are dumb enough to believe them. The Democeatic party has turned into the biggest liars I have ever seen. Just like when Schumer got caught on the phone saying just keep saying " Repubs are a do nothing congress over and over again." Sure enough now you have people believing it even though they have passed over 400 bills.

    Like Carl Rove and his election night meltdown? Or the way faxe news kept predicting a landlslide for president romney? Whos believing whom's lies?

    July 30, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  14. kkong

    Of course, they are. Dimocraps always run on fantasy.

    July 30, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    People should listen to the #3 Republican in the House, Scalise(?). As recently as this week, he's been asked if impeachment is on or off the table, and he never answers the question, despite Boehner claiming that it is not on the table, either now or in the future. Boehner also claimed that he didn't want to shut down the government, but somehow pulled it off.

    July 30, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. gary bunton

    Well put sniffit, God forbid the GOP/Teatroll base ever look at facts. I wonder how they spin the GDP annocuncment this morning. Up to 4% highest point in ten years. Oh but this president is ruining the world as we know it. LOL

    July 30, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. j. lopez

    god saves us from the republican party. I will never vote these old white bigots.

    July 30, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC


    "Boehner said "this whole talk about impeachment" comes from "the President's own staff" and from congressional Democrats "

    A quick perusal of sites like Breitbart or Red State or Daily Caller or Faux News proves that so wrong it's laughable
    One by one, they're all changing their tune. The "big white couch" on Fox, which has called for impeachment for months, is now blaming Democrats for trying to impeach the president. In politics, I think this is called "transference." The rest of the world calls it being willfully ignorant.

    July 30, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  19. Sam

    Wait after the November elections, you will see a total new and energized congress (all republicans). You see, to pass a law or revoke a law, if you have majority on both house and senate, the laws will pass whether Obama veto it or not, that is the beauty of it.

    July 30, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. Lily

    There is a say which goes: "think first before you lip out". If republicans didn't think first or put a lid to Sarah Palin and don't air out about "impeachment", thats not the job for Dems to sort it out. With your negligence, republicans, you are going to pay a very high price. I fully support Dems to take advantage of this stupidty and silly mistake which republicans have engaged themselves to. They can decide now to swim or get drown. Its upon them.

    July 30, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. sonny chapman

    sonnie3- "I'm a uniter,not a divider". Where did we hear that one before ?

    July 30, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. smith

    This is a good move by the Dems. They can totally deflect the negative press away from them by using the radical statemnets of the extreme right. The GOP used the same tactic back in 2004 and won.

    July 30, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Rickk

    The Dems should run on impeachment; The GOP has been talking about it since Obama was elected in 2008. They are still angry Nixon resigned. That is why Clinton was impeached. Reagan should have been impeached for Iran-Contra, but it was too soon after Watergate. Bush 43 should have been impeached for Iraq War, but the Dems are almost as guilty.

    July 30, 2014 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  24. nintex

    Another classroom analogy – when a kid gets caught doing something wrong on the playground, he (or she – girls are good at this too) points to the other guy and starts yelling "He did it! He did it!" The louder he yells, the more he thinks he will be believed. Republicans have completely turned their wrongdoings around and are pointing at democrats yelling "They did it! They did it" I spent too many years on the playground watching 9-year-olds; I think some kids are actually more mature and responsible than the current republican/tea party bunch.

    July 30, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  25. rs

    The Republicans stupidly brought this upon themselves. It takes a couple of seconds of Googling to find the RWNJ of the House not only talking about impeachment, plans for impeachment, but even that they gave speeches and ran in 2012 on impeaching the President of the United States. Their own idiotic radicalism will, once again be their undoing.

    July 30, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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