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. D in NM

    The leaders of the Dems need to realize their LACK of vision for this party has lead to this costly and at times sad battle for the White House. It is their lack of insight and DREAM of being the party of historical value which has the DEMS where they are now.
    The DNC leader, the Congressional and Senatorial leaders should have convened and "combined" the historical ticket to secure at least an 8 to 16 year term for the DEMs in the White House. YET due to their lack of vision.... this contest continues with two of the greatest candidates: one a brilliant Woman and the other a racially mixed man with potential.....Here's to hoping the DNC and DEM Leadership Awakens SOON!!! Also, the Obama and Clinton supporters need to STOP their trashing of the candidates or we'll be singing the old Republican hymn for 4-8 yrs....................

    April 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Jeff Radun

    I agree with Julie.
    Obama supporters say the nastiest things and MOST Hillary supporters will not support Obama if he wins.

    April 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. portland

    hrc told edwards not everything has come out about obama. when does she play her trump card?

    April 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Delton, NM

    It's a little late, what do you expect with the Clintons–as Bill said, "Give me a break". The Clintons play dirty pool, and Barack has to respond. End of story. If you wanted to take the high road, you should have thought about the possibility of Hillary losing. When she's losing she plays dirty.

    So don't whine to us, we are supporting the candidate with integrity.

    Hillary's trashing your DNC Party, go cry to her, since you let her drag you through the mud.

    Obama 08

    April 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. HH

    They both need each other so its time make up and just pair up. Clinton could never carry states such as Washington,Iowa,Colorado,Minnesota,Virginia,New Mexico and Missouri.
    And Obama can not carry states such as

    I think they would both bring a lot to the table.

    But Obama would have to be on the top of the ticket, he has more votes and more delagates.

    April 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. rosyrose

    julie the huge margin in pennsylvania is gone already please...like hillary living in an imaginary word of snipers...

    April 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. ds

    Ah, shucks. The current campaign isn't divisive at all–everyone has decided to go bowling. Throw in a monster truck rally and the dems are sure to win in November.

    April 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. Franky

    "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."

    Hey man! We also have feelings too, LOL!!! And I'm not like any supporter of my boy.......my boy gave me a little "Democrat" in me but boy, do I have some Republican in me.........now that's a combination! LOL!!

    April 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. Dillon, MD

    Two or three kitchen sinks have been thrown aleady, it's already harmed the party. Where have you people been? The Clintons have stolen your party already. Try to keep up.

    Obama 08

    April 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. 4REAL

    Chuck Schumer know that Hillary is or was trying to do another upset to the Democratic race in order to gain more leverage for the nominee. Hillary will have to stop trying to throw the kitchen sink, and run her campaign as if she is running for President instead of running for a sabotage beauty contest. Hillary needs to show the American people that she can be trusted but right now she can't even run her campaign.

    April 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. Madison , PA

    OBAMA gave a 25 min speeech nd did not mentionned PENN... Thing Hillary can't do. She has to be negative and name people... Learn to deal positively...

    April 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Mike

    Do you think the GOP doesnt know things that both Dem camps do?

    The GOP attack machine is fully aware of everything both camps know in the Dems side and probably a lot more. GOP is waiting for Obama to get the nomination because they have some very big surprises waiting for him.

    The last thing the GOP wants is Hillary as the nominee because her record is already known and there are no surprises. She is also much tougher.

    But the Obama having an affair and drug use a few years back is starting to come out and this may end it for him.

    April 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. Brian from NYC

    Hillary is clearing a path to run in 2012 – she will burn Obama now so SHE can run after McCain finishes his first term. She cares only for herself not the country or the party!

    Clinton Republican is going to be the new term – those democratic that leave the party because of her and Bill.

    April 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  14. ct

    most of Obamistas, the Obama's supporters are the nastiest people on blogs.
    call names, ridicule, insult, throw mud, make cruel comments make fun of others, think about themselves that they are the most educated – while misspelling,
    are arrogant, mean, racists some of the times,
    they sound like a bunch of hypnotized psychotic creatures.
    No dignity, no respect to others, self centered, idolizing their candidate to the point of being irrational. Excuse him of anything he did, does. No common sense. Pushing others to vote for their idol.
    What is that? How is that? This is free country, and everyone can vote for whomever he/she wants.

    April 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. Trash Will Not Win

    Barack will win inspite of the dirty, trashy Clintons.

    Obama 08

    April 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. NZ, NJ

    To Ex-Hillary supporter:

    You were never truly her supporter, only a hater pretending to be one so as to show people that she is losing support. Please...we all see right through you. grow up and look at the facts prpoerly and maybe you will find that Hillary and even McCain would be a far better C in C than Obamama.

    April 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. Nancy, Oklahoma

    There seems to be a huge disconnect between Obama and Clinton supporters. Personally, I think the horrid, mean and nasty attacks ALL come from the Clinton campaign. Go figure.

    April 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  18. Veterans For Obama

    A little late on this one buddy.

    April 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  19. Sean

    Hopefully Clinton will take it a little easier now that Penn is out of the chief strategist position, although I find it troubling that he's still involved with her campaign. Regardless, Hillary has already gone too far in my opinion by claiming that she and McCain had crossed some imaginary Presidential "threshold" but that Obama hasn't, and by airing her "3am" commercial that it appears Republicans are already planning on using against Obama, and by continuing to push debunked accusations about Obama regarding Canada and NAFTA, and by a whole laundry list of other dirty campaign tactics that she's employed against her fellow Democrat and rival for the nomination.

    Her actions have been divisive, and are at the heart of why around a quarter of her supporters are now saying they'd vote for McCain over Obama. She's set a horrible example for her supporters, and she needs to stop.

    April 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  20. Jack Mpls

    Hillary needs to do somethign drastic I hope she brings the whole kitchen this Obama craze needs to stop, he has no plans and needs someone to tell him everytime he says the wrong thing or action how to handle it then he changes. If Obama gets the nom I Vote McCain and I don't like McCain. / Obama in a debate with McCain is going to show the US that Obama doesn't have what it takes. He doesn't have the stomach for it.

    April 8, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Sandy in PA

    This guy will probably all of a sudden get a nasty letter from his major contributors in the next couple days. Then he will change his tune. Because the Clintons play DIRTY.

    April 8, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. Mike in Houston

    The democratic majority in the House and Senate will only suffer if the voters pay attention to what they are actually doing in Washington. This majority has spent their entire time in partisan politics at the total exclusion of the American people. The whole lot should be thrown out.

    April 8, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. maya

    Ex-Hillary supporter- Way before that, Obama called Hillary "Bush/Cheney lite." He has misspoken on a number of issues- Nuclear Bill, JFK bill which he falsely claimed sponsored his father, Rezko connections, Wright situation,....I could go on and on. I'm sad to see that you were taken so easily by the media. I would have more respect if you supported Obama on a policy issue (e.g., Health Care) vs media bias and spin...

    April 8, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  24. Craig

    It would all be so much easier if Hillary would just realize that she's going to lose and back out. Even if she does win PA, it will only be by a small margin. Obama has North Carolina in the bag, and he's rapidly gaining the support of superdelegates. It's over, Hillary, please just see that and let the Democrats move on.

    Obama 08

    April 8, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. Chuck in Oregon

    Keep dreaming Julie. There will never be a wide margin, there has never been a wide margin in Hillary's benefit. Best case senario Hillary will benefit by a margin of 2 or 3 %, and there is a potential that it will end in a draw or a slight margin of 1 or 2% in Obama's favor. Either way, anything less that a 15% lead by Clinton is a defeat. Obama will win North Carolina, Oregon, Montana, hands down by plus 10% or more..which just creates more and more of a lead. They are tied in Indiana and that could go in his favor also. So where is the battle state... it is almost gone.
    BTW Obama won Texas, not Clinton. Texas system consists of a primary and caucus, not just a primary. Clinton although won the primary portion, Obama wont the Caucus by enought points to give him the state by 4. So he can win a big state.

    April 8, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
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