April 8th, 2008
03:25 PM ET
12 years ago

DCCC chair warns negative presidential race could do damage

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/08/art.vanhollen.gi.jpg caption="Van Hollen is chairman of the DCCC."](CNN) - The top Democrat charged with helping his party maintain control of the House in 2008 warned Tuesday congressional candidates could suffer if the Democratic presidential race turns overly negative.

Speaking at a press briefing with reporters, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen predicted the Democrats will pick up House seats in November, but said the ongoing contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama remains a "variable."

"We've seen the energy and excitement in the early Democratic primaries, and the only thing that could hurt or cut back on that is if the Democratic primary gets so divisive that it's difficult to patch it up and heal the wounds in time to be together in November," said Van Hollen, who has not endorsed either candidate.

"We need to make sure that both candidates stay positive so you don't leave lasting wounds that will depress in anyway that kind of energy and enthusiasm," he added. "I don't think we are at that point. I do think there is a danger of reaching that point."

At the same briefing, Clinton backer and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Chuck Schumer sounded a less dire tone, saying the hotly-contested race will benefit the party come November.

“Each is getting to refine their message and battle test their campaigns in this primary," he said. "I don't think any damaging blows have been landed by one or the other, and damaging to the general election, and I think both are very strong candidates."

Filed under: DCCC • DSCC
soundoff (255 Responses)
  1. NC4Obama

    They must sense that hillary is getting ready to throw the whole kitchen.......if everyone would just present their case all would be fine. There is no need in trying to tear each other down.....


    April 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Jack in ND

    Clinton's surrogates are as willing as she is to harm the Democratic Party and its congressional chances in their quest for the White House.

    We knew that already.

    April 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Julie

    Hillary will win the great state of Pennsylvania by a HUGE margin. She is beloved here!! Then she'll sweep up in North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico. At that point, she'll be ahead in the popular vote, especially because the good people of Florida and Michigan REMEMBER that they chose Hillary and their votes should count!! I predict John Edwards will endorse Hillary before the N.C. Primary and possibly be her V.P. What a ticket!! What hope for America!!
    To all of Hillary's. Supporters
    .Please don't let the old sexist Republicans make you feel bad with their rampant sexism that follows Hillary. It's a typical CNN, and MSNBC blogger to scourn a woman who can throw a punch. Down with the Obamanation of this 2008 election year! Hillary Clinton . . . our next black President!
    Obama supporters say some of the meanest, nastiest things. If they want people to rally behind their candidate should he get the nomination, they better show more respect. Right now, I don't like them very much.

    April 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Davis

    Politics is taking credit for the good things and blaming another for the bad things. I guess Van Holen is setting the groundwork to blame Obama or Clinton for his potential failure.

    April 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. b-liberal

    Somebody tell that to the Obama camp. They have been running a negative campaign, which Obama pretends not to know about. He needs to step up and take responsibility or call off the negative attacks.

    Go Hillary – we need a strong leader who doesn't quit and takes responsibility.

    April 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. mary

    Obama and his lies are hurting the Democratic Party, Check out Bill O'Rielly's web site article on Rev. Wright.

    April 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Sarah

    The only thing that is going to hurt the Democrats is if they continue to allow FL & MI to be disenfranchised by obama, and if the Democrats continue to backstab Hillary.

    April 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I hope that would be obvious to most people. The House races could also be affected by ballot measures and local party groups helping people to register and get to the polls on election day. I hope that both major parties (as well as minor parties) would be willing to do Public Service Announcements to tell people to go out and vote.

    April 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Wolf

    Well, guess they understand that in Florida and Michigan they will be loosing seats to the Republicans if the votes aren't counted and the delegates seated before the end of the primaries. That should be their worry – as with the 30+% of Clinton supporters who will not support Obama. They have some big problems coming up and Dean is just in la la land by not addressing them!!!!!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. Eric-PA

    Looks like Obama got a hold of you. Stop playing the fear card!

    April 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Chudi

    Clintonites and Obamanians! MUST READ! Its the republicans that are posting and pretending to be Obamanians/Clinotonites to drive us against each other.

    YES both Obama and Clinton sides have been battling each other but the most divisive and rude statements come from the republicans! We've been had DEMOCRATS! Check out the links.

    THIS MEANS WAR! Smarten up democrats.

    Please google this "Republicans bloggers posing as democrats on blogs".

    April 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. Katherine



    It's Obama who is destroying the Dem party. He's unqualified and unelectable. No amount of 24/7 media promotion in print, on tv, net blogs and left wingnut radio will ever make Obama electable. Sorry Jack Cafferty, even though you appear to hate women and Hillary in particular you will have to live with Pres. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    What would MLK , who fought for hard for voter rights and who CNN and Obama are channeling at every opportunity think of Obama's attempts to disenfranchise voters in Michigan and Florida and across this nation???????????????????????????????????????????


    Country first, party second. May God Bless America, NEVER< God Da– America as Obama's "pastor" and "mentor" likes to shout.

    April 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Will

    Julie, you are delusional. she was the only candidate on the Michigan ballot. More people voted for 'Anybody but Hillary' than her. Looks like you know how to lie like your beloved Hillary. Let me guess, you wrote your valiant post while dodging sniper fire?

    April 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Renee /Expat Winterthur Switzerland

    I feel another "Hill" melt down coming on! They must smell that she is going to go all out negative some time soon. Otherwise they would never even comment on it.

    It seems atleast to me that everyday, some high Dem official is making a statement about this situation.

    Maybe they were tipped off........whatever it turns out to be if Hill goes negative, she had better hope that she does not "misspeak" again and ends up winning the nomination. If that happens I will stay home on election day. I could not vote for "that woman" if she gains our party nomination due to dirty politics.

    I still have to look at myself in the mirror!

    *note to Julie: The most negative comments I have read on dozens of boards are those of Hilliary supporters! The polls bear out the facts that you all are the ones who have gone half crazy when it comes to their candidate. You did not have to put down any Obama supporters in your statement. Obama supporters are not in charge of this blog!

    Sad really...You all are just sad!

    April 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. An Agnostic Democrat

    Yeah, well tell that to Camp Clinton before they plan their next kitchen sink strategy to compensate for all the dishonesty, corruption incompetency and ineptitude of their candidate and her sleazy surrogates (e.g., Mark Penn, Wolfson, Lanny Davis, Kiki McClean, Carville and Bubba himself).

    April 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Sandra

    It is my belief that Hillary will do anything to become the nominee even if it means destroying the democrat party. If Obama receives the nomination she will cry foul and pout like the spoiled little girl she is.

    April 8, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. Concerned Democrat

    Why is there a Kitchen sink to throw. Obama has some very serious credibility issues.... Once all the smoke clears (that the Obama campaign has been creating), the American people may have a better idea of who Barack Obama is, or who Barack Obama is not. Once people stop voting against Bill Clinton (he's not running), they will begin to focus on Barack Obama the man......the very flawed candidate!

    April 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. Penn State

    This may not get posted because CNN does not want you to know about this, but there is a march on media bias and the suppression of voters on April 11th in New York. Its suppose to be huge!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. get real

    I don't understand how all the Obama supporters are calling for Hillary to quit and "don't say anything negative" about their candidate.

    Do you people think that it will benefit the Democratic party to not question Obama (character and record) at this time?

    I say that Hillary needs to throw the kitchen sink, the bathtub, the whole house at him if necessary.

    Obama has already shown that when times get tough, he heads to the Virgin Islands and sends Rev. Wright on a cruise.

    By the way, where has Michelle been. I guess the Obama camp has realized she is more of a liability than Rev. Wright.

    Hillary, keep throwing everything you've got, cause I think you are about to sink his battleship!

    Hillary 08... coming from a 30 year old, male, college graduate....

    April 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. dEMABRAT

    ZZZZZzzzzzzzz Obama is not going to get to the necessary delegates either. He has been just as damaging to the Democratic party by the catch phrases that his supporters like to regurgiate like ; she is divisive, she'll do anything to win, she is polarizing etc.

    Oh, and let us not forget the lovely recount of Bill Clinton and Ms. Lewisnsky by Rev. Wright. That really helped the Democratic Party....what was it, 'ridin dirty.'?

    Yes, Obama has really brought us all together by dividing the Democratic Party. But I have to say, he did bring the media together. They seem to all be on his side.

    April 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. Debbie,NJ

    Julie, Hilliary and her supporters can throw a punch but you can't take one and Hillary is not black. Also If you want respect you have to earn it. Don't start a fight if you can't finish it. Rocky didn't whine.

    April 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. Worried

    Julie ,

    and, you sound like a very nice girl/woman..
    I live in Florida and I did not vote. Nor did many democrats.
    Why don’t you ask how many new people registered in Florida as democrats to vote in the primaries? Probably none.
    The voting results are skewed .....

    April 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. P

    Well said, Julie! I couldn't agree with you more on the one-sidedness of the media's coverage. It's disgusting.

    For people who support a candidate (Obama) who claims to believe in unity and the power of positivity and hope, they're pretty bad at all of the above.

    HILLARY 2008
    It's about time you all stop the hate...

    Start thinking about what really matters, like the issues!– which she definitely has the best handle on.

    April 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Christine, Tampa

    Julie April 8th, 2008 4:15 pm ET

    Hillary will win the great state of Pennsylvania by a HUGE margin. She is beloved here!! Then she'll sweep up in North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico.

    I want some of whatever you're on!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. James

    Julie, what news have you been reading? Hillary's lead in Pennsylvania has dwindled from 20+ points down to single digits, and there's still two weeks left. Obama is 20+ points ahead in NC. I'd love some of what you are smoking, though.

    April 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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