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. It may depend on women voters

    If this campain is not seen as fair in the end, I can predict for you that democrrats will lose seats in the house, not gain them.

    After all, now the democratic party is going to be known as the party that does not want to hear from voters or count their votes.

    I would not count on women to support house democrats as they have in the past.

    The whole party may well go down with Obama.

    April 8, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. Anton

    Count Michigan and Florida's delegates, otherwise you'll lose those states big to the Republican...any idiot can see that.

    April 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The only damage democrats can do is vote republican. Americans must think about science and technology and not war. Both Hillary and Barack are progressive innovators for education. John McCain represents war and the past and we cannot compete globally if we stay on the same downward path.

    April 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Lee WV

    How many people does it take to get this point across?Hillary has said though she is willing to take this to the convention.the only reason she has surived thus far is the negativity that won her Ohio and tied in Texas(really lost if Caucus counts).The Obama campaign has plenty of ammo to work with now.She is self destructing.

    April 8, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  5. Susan, TX

    To Julie:

    Edwards has already said he will not be a VP, you are behind on the news....You seem to think that all the Obama supporters have been saying the meanest things about Clinton, you should read some of the CLINTON supporters being just as nasty too. You haven't been reading the blogs....have you?

    April 8, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Ponder this

    penn is a nothing state ........you can have Hillary.........lets see what happens when Obama win the nomination..........you can vote Republican out of spite but it isn't goin to help the people in penn that need help now.........so Pennsylvania......will be caught between a rock and a hard place.........John McCain aint gonna save you.......and hillary isn't going to win....lol.....so time will tell if Democrats in Penn are stubborn fools or rational thinkers
    Obama 08

    April 8, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Bukky

    This thing went negative after she got humiliated by Obama's 12 str8 wins. Hillary will sink the demcratic boat

    April 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Mike

    I do not understand how this is bad for the party... this is nothing compared to what the general election is going to be like...

    If these idiots are scared to do their job or afraid of what might happen they need start endorsing one of the candidates... Everyone has known for several weeks this is going to be decided by the superdelegates... so if they want it to end... VOTE!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. len

    Let's RUMBLE!!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. KE

    Between Obama and Hillary is a huge difference. Obama is idealistic socialist, and Hillary (and McCain) pragmatic humanist.

    The idealists promises hope and change and saving humankind but without knowledge and understanding of humanily. They are the ultimate answer. The only way they can keep their promises to people is to deny every potential of humankind. They believe in people power but don't believe in giving them too much power. People often suffer under the dogmatic and narrow minded leadership and their ideology. It's ultimate self-righteousness.

    Hilary and McCain are both pragmatists.
    The war in Iraq, it's all or nothing, you do it or you don't, you either stay long time or pull out right away. There is no solution in between. People are strong. It's in human nature to get up and fix things up (with right kind of help).

    Pride and dignity is important.

    Go, Hilary!

    April 8, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  11. Sylvia

    Hillary needs to just run as an INDEPENDENT and show the DNC that they are mindless FOOLS and NOBODY needs them OR Obama!!!!
    Obama and the DNC deserve each other but OUR COUNTRY deserves more

    April 8, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. robin

    How come nobody on CNN is talking about Mark Penn who is still part of Hillary's campaign, and the fact the Bill is also wheeling and dealing with Columbia...Slick Willy at his best....

    April 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Rafael San Juan PR

    Clinton and Puerto Rico working together to make Puerto Rico the 51st state of the USA.


    April 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  14. Independent Voter

    Julie, the issue in this election is that Hillary is throwing punches. This is exactly the problem because we as a nation do not want politicians throwing punches. We are getting weaker everyday from all the stupid punches. We want someone to heal and unite this country. From many, we are one. As one, we are stronger to confront all. Hillary would have been good for the 90s but not today.!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. shirley

    This Primary is a mess and I consider Hillary to blame. She has tried everything in the 'sink' to garner votes, insisting the DNC change the rules at this late date for Florida and Michigan; blaming Senator Obama for the DNC rules, using gender, race and religion to garner votes; lying and mudslinging. I like a good, rousing debate about issues, but Hillary has strayed far beyond issues in this race.

    April 8, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  16. Desinfranchasied in Miami

    The damage is done – go ahead try to win the national elections in November without Florida and Michigan... GO AHEAD!!!

    April 8, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. RickytheGriff

    Ever notice that Hillary's supports don't have the slightest problem with the fact that she has lied left, right and center?

    What does this say about them, and about Democrats in general? Do we really want 4 to 8 more years of someone who cannot tell the truth? Are they willing to distroy Obama and support a person who is willing to drag down their party even further?

    April 8, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. vince - phoenix

    Nice rant, there, Julie...

    i fully disagree with each and every syllable.... but nice rant, nonetheless...

    April 8, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Donald, SC

    Right Julie,

    Calling Senator Clinton our next BLACK President while there is a real 1/2 black person running in the race is a NICE thing to say.

    The stupid bus must have knocked you over, then backed up; and I am not talking about Clinton.

    April 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Amos

    Hillary will win this thing i just know it.

    go go go!

    April 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. Red

    Julie, your comment about Clinton being the next black President is the most ridiculous, disgusting and divisive comment I have yet to see here. Sorry, but Hillary, IF she wins PA, will win by no more than 3 percentage points. Trust me. This Penn business is the start of the ugliest can of worms you will ever see coming out of the Clinton campaign. Perhaps you should do some research into your candidate, instead of putting down the supporters of the other. You're in for a rude awakening.

    April 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. SevSnape


    Please tell me you weren't taking any drugs while typing that!

    First, NC, IN, PA, WV, Kentucky, MT, OR, SD will all go to Obama as IN is Bobby Kennedy land and was a MAJOR state to vote for JFK in 1960 as was WV. WV is also regarded as the second home of JFK. NC...DUH! look at the polls! Kentucky was another state to vote JFK. AS for PA, well I think it's pretty obvious if you've been watching the news.

    April 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. Ric

    Whats done is done. Democrats for Mc Cain '08

    April 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. ct

    Obama's push is expensive and never stopping. Hillary want to win too. SO, how do we expect one of them to leave? I think they should run to the end, to see the other voters voice. Not only Dem voice, we need independents etc. It is not fair for independent to be stuck with a candidate chosen by only democrats. I think that these elections should be redesigned, and redone next year.
    I only wonder why Obama does not donate part of that money to poor. He is just using it only for himself and his glory.

    April 8, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Concerned Democrat

    It's too bad that in this day and age a political contest can't be about the candidates. Now its all about the campaign. Many people just don't realize how much of a money making venture campaigning has become..... We have professional campaigners out there making millions.... Go figure!

    April 8, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
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