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. North Carolina

    He needs to remember that there's nothing more negative in a democracy than denying citizens the right to vote which includes giving their vote to a candidate for whom they did not vote, or taking away all the candidates but one!!.

    April 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. david


    what ever you are on, if it is legal in the USA, please let us know where the rest of us can get it.

    Keep clicking your ruby slippers together...........In case you've been under a rock for the last few weeks, clinton's lead in Penn is statistically thinner than a kraft single. But I am sure you just "misspoke" in your post!

    April 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Hey JULIE!!

    I would like just ONE hit of you are smokin kiddo! You must live on Planet Clinton to be THAT deep in the trance. : )

    April 8, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Darryl

    LIAR EXPOSED) Hillary Was AGAINST the Civil Rights Act of 1964

    Please do your own research and see how well she lies.... just google this question.

    April 8, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Obama Nation

    We know little about Sen Obama and are learning more each day. We need the time. We don't want to make a choice we may regret.

    April 8, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. Michael


    Hillary will not win Pa by a huge margin lets be real here. And, its not the media that is against Hillary....it is here negative attacks, her lies, her misstatments. Its extremely annoying is she treats the American public like we are children. There is so much we are beginning to find out about how Hillary and Bill conduct their finances. Lets agree not to be totally blind about our choices for President. .

    April 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Bud Curtis

    They could not be more wrong where I am concerned. I will resign as the Democrat precinct chair in my area if Obama is our Democratic nominee. I am fed up, and disgusted, with the double standards of he and his supporters, and the way they have trashed Clinton and supporters like Gerry Ferraro.
    If the new supporters Obama is bringing into the party are the "future" of the Democratic party, then an "old timer" like me will be looking for another party. End of story.
    Bud Curtis
    Miami, OK

    April 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. Boomer

    Just what kind of hallucinigenics are you on, Julie???? What colour is the sky in your world??? Hillary Clinton, whom I once supported, has run a terrible campaign and it is coming apart at the seams. If she can't run her own campaign, how can she run the country? Obama has run the far better campaign with much less rancour. He will win the nomination and you will vote for Obama, Julie. Either him or the old sexist Republican!

    April 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. Thomas

    no way – hillary is not the answer

    O-BAM-a 08

    April 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. Hillary Clinton

    Dear Julie,

    I won't win BUT I can promise to continue to lie, craft-up trickery against Barack (who is a very nice fellow), duct at imaginary sniper fire, continue to misspeak, make up health care stories about people who cannot rebuke me and continue to harm the democratic party but not leaving...

    But thanks for the confidence in me even though I don't deserve it..

    As recent polls state Barack will when Penn as well as the other remaining states and continue on to become the nominee.

    Please back him as he is "real change" and will not disgrace the whitehouse position as my husband did in the oral office BTW while I was in the house ... Oh, did you see the picture of my Bill with Rev. Wright.. He really was taken out of context.

    Hillary Clinton

    April 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Andrea

    Thank you Senator Clinton for rolling with the punches. That represents character, wisdom, intelligence and also grace. Just check out the folks voting for Mr Obama (mostly young & inexperienced, just like him). They holler, but they really don't comprehend what is really happening to this country. They have not been out in the real world to experience the 1st blow.
    The Clinton's have done the best they could for the poor people of this country, and we had a wonderful 8 yrs. Obama supporters, Leave the former President's indescrections out of this. We don't have the right to judge others. How quickly we forget, and how ungrateful we are for everything the Clintons did for the poor when they were in the White House.

    My Thanks to the Clintons – Go Senator Clinton, we have your back.

    April 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Shirley, Silicon Valley, CA

    Not only Hillary Clinton's divisiveness cost Democratic Party, but also Hillary's cheap shots and lies one after another will cost the general election.

    The Clintons will drive out American people to vote against Hillary!

    April 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Tom

    Julie Hillary is expecting to lose North Carolina and Indiana and Hillary is really damage the demoncrate party, she's has the most staff resigning because of the negative remarks and Penn working with foreign trade agreement then Hillary is a lier, and I wondering if she really going to lose in Pennsylvania,

    April 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Mike

    Who is this guy??? He needs to sit down and let the primary go on and I hope Clinton continues to attack Obama... Obama has a lot of questions to answer if he is going to be the nominee in November...

    Right now he is unelectible because he refuses to deal with FL and MI... He seems to think that he can win Colorado and a few other states to make up for losing Ohio and Florida... He is a huge risk in November and the superdelegates know it!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. toch from germany


    Who care,s if you like us or not but the fact is that GOD has choseing him already and HRC or mecome, don,t forget is only GOD makes one who and what one will in life.GOD has picked OBAMA up no human can stop HIM:

    OBAMA role on . 08 08 08 so will be in GOD NAME

    OBAMA 08

    April 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. Willy

    They are doofus democrats and I hope they all go down in 08.

    April 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. SUE, Michigan

    I wish the Obama supporters would get off their "throw it in" bandwagon. Last time I checked, if Florida and Michigan are counted, this is too close to call. I know they want her to cave in, but she is a tough cookie, and will not drop out. Besides, she's going to win! Obama has even more baggage than she does, and once all the facts are out, the choice will be clear.
    At that point, Democrats will start looking at McCain and HIS problems, and they will rally around her and all the Democratic candidates, and things will begin to change.
    And I have to wonder at all these "new" Democrats registering in PA and elsewhere. Are they really Democrats, or bored Republicans who don't have a vote, and are trying to bring down Hillary because they know Barack is beatable? I want to see THAT poll.

    April 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. barry

    This election year appears to be politics as usual. Our countries challenges have never been greater. The Economy, 2 Wars, Healthcare, Social Security and Education are serious concerns.
    I find what is occurring in our democratic process problematic for the voters. I have voted democrat for more years than I care to think about. I have never been so disenfranchised by my party. It would be nice if there were an easy answer as to which candidate will be representing the party come November. But a party that is trying to silence the vote is not a party I want to belong to. It is obvious that the party leaders are trying to force Hillary Clinton from the race so they do not have to deal with not counting the votes in FL and MI. If the party leaders continue to go try and push Senator Clinton from the race they will do more to disenfranchise voters than anything either one of the two candidates could possibly do. Come November I very well may be a registered Independent voting for John McCain.

    April 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Ex-Hillary supporter

    Clinton's campaign has been a huge disappoinment to me. Her gender has nothing to do with the fact that she is struggling, it is just that she has "misspoken" too many times, her credibility is shot. I doubt whether she cares about damage that has already been done, as when she virtually endorsed McCain as commander in chief over her fellow democrat, who just happens to be the frontrunner.

    April 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. maya

    Tell that to the Obamabots who are apparently giving death threats to radio and tv announcers who openly support Hillary -per CNN this morning- and pressuring black delegates to support Obama.

    April 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. bakersfield


    April 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. marta

    Dont know what part of PA you are from , but she is not loved by anyone I know in my part of PA. i am proud as a white middle aged woman to support obama...I have sadly lost all respect for senator clinton and at the beginning of this campaign , if you told me I would vote for someone different i would have thought you were crazy..her campaign has been an eye opener for me and she is not the type of person i want representing my interests

    April 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Obama Supporter

    Julie – I'm sorry you don't like Obama supporters. I think Obama supporters feel a certain frustration with the tone of the campaign that Clinton is running. She seems to "misspeak" and then turn around and attack her opponent to deflect criticism, see, e.g., Caftagate. This article is one of many questioning the negative tone of the campaign and worrying that it will hurt dems' chances in the fall.

    Please remember that whoever you root for now, we will welcome you on the bandwagon and will need you in November so the dems can take back the White House. Will look forward to having you on the team.

    April 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. skylark

    Most of the negative campaigning has been Clinton. Mr. Obama has been sticking to the important subjects and showing his resolve to keep it clean. Stay the course Mr Obama. We respect you for it.
    Hillary Clinton is a liar and a poseur. Given enough rope.......

    Obama '08

    April 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Andy Wilson NY Voting Expat in Dom Rep

    Duhhhh. Shirt-tails and a mandate could be long and resounding if the Dems are unified. But, Hillary's ability to claim her support as her own first, like her own personal property, and then as Dems second, like a lesser step-child, has created a landscape of personal attacks and hatreds. On top of it, her misrepresentation to the public that FL and MI are somehow Obama's fault, disenfranchizes all of us Democrats, because it allows inuendo and falsehoods to be perpetuated. When Hillary's done licking her wounds, hopefully she'll be magnanemous enough to acknowledge that we're all Dems and we cannot afford another 4 more years of Republicans. However, I'm not holding my breath...

    April 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
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