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. Whatever

    Julie – Your first paragraph sounds like something from Bill's fantasy land. Maybe you did inhale, eh? Then your second paragraph talks about how nasty Obama supporters are. Have you completely missed Hillary's campaign, or did you just 'misspeak' when you meant to say Hillary supporters?

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

    One interesting point to note.....

    In all the posts I have read over the past months, I have always seen that McCain supporters who are posting comments (although fewer) are always posting positive comments for McCain. I also see Hillary supporters always posting positive comments for Hillary. However, I ALWAYS see Obama supporters ALWAYS posting NEGATIVE comments against Hillary. It is a sad day in America when a presidential candidate is chosen based on hatred for another. this only goes to show the character and mentality of the Obama followers. Their negativity and nastiness however will cause Obama to lose the presidency and the truth behind the more qualified candidates will finally come forth. Sadly it will be too late.

    April 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. Get Real

    What's been negative are the Democrats who opened their mouths and supported one candidate before the voting was over, made party rules that disenfranchised voters instead of punishing the politicians, the spin and disloyalty of their own, the name calling, the double standards, the exaggerations, the grandstanding, trying to force a candidate out of the race, the focus on personality (likeability) instead of issues and a news media that is so bias, they are pathetic. And then the final blow...they point the finger and blame everything on one candidate. This party loses more opportunities and gets weaker and weaker with every election. They cower to a criminal Republican party because they are afraid that the Rove machine or Fox Noise will ruin their careers. I am ready for a change...a real change, not hot air...give me a party for the people.

    April 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. julie35

    Blame the media , the bias dnc,and Obamas own lies and arrogance, I am so glad I got involved with politics this election! I have found out things I never wanted to know! This is NOT the democratic party that I was proud of, It is like some trashy thug show.. Until I experienced it first hand I would have not believed that this election has been bought,threatened, bribed,for Obama, It is sickening, I will proudly campaign for McCain in the fall if Obama is the nominee, He is weak, and has the dnc and crooked media to thank!

    April 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. KHAL Houston, Texas

    Hillary, come girl give it up...you looking real old..now...we don't wan;t a third term for Bill.....your "true" color is shining through....blue as in the blues....all you need is a guitar and some dark sunshades...oh! borrow Bill's....from his "1st Black President Days" looking drunk, smoking weed and now he collects a gub' ment check..an insult to intelligent people of color and non-color around the world.....but that's another story...Billary and Bill Kin...g oop"s Clintons....The Blues Brother and Sister..!...they got millions they don't give a hoot about the party....they just mad...that the rest of the party...would even consider a half of negro over her lily white backside, for the President Candidate of the Democratic Party, remember "Trading Places" with Dan Akrod and Eddie Murphey....and now you know the rest of the story......

    April 8, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. Susan MO

    Obama is the one is so negative and will say or do anything to be in the news.......'Star Struck'. We thought about him at first, but the more we watched & listened to him, the more we turned against him. We are now for Clinton.

    CLINTON 08

    April 8, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  7. Stacey

    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.

    Keep dreaming Julie, you're more delusional than the candidate you support!!

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

    Get ready, the Clintons are hoisting the house as we speak to throw at Obama, never mind the kitchen sink...there is only one way for them to win the nomination and that is to destroy the character of Obama. This race is going to get ruthless and brutal by next weekend...Bill warned us of this....keep in mind the Clintons offered the VP slot to Obama as an olive branch...he might regret his rejections. When they are done with him, the only office he might get will be a bylaw officer!

    Get real DNC, the Clintons do not care about you! Howard Dean and his crew will be the first guys gone when they win the nomination and replaced with their own crew at HQ. That is the reality of the situation!

    April 8, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. name-calling

    The Obama camp has been acting like school children. First they called Hillary Clinton divisive, do anything to win, montster... Now, they are doing the same thing to McCain too. I hope he grows up and act like an adult and run a clean campaign like Obama always claims he's doing. Or maybe he prefers double-talk.

    April 8, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. CY from a non democratic country

    Chudi April 8th, 2008 3:47 pm ET

    Clintonites and Obamanians! MUST READ! Its the republicans that are posting and pretending to be Obamanians/Clinotonites to drive us mad 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 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. sheanne

    The Democratic party is already ruined and divided beyond repair.

    You have 2 strong candidates who's followers will not vote for the other in the general election.

    You have one candidate who, in the media eye, can say and do anything and never chastised while the other is berated against in an obvious biased manner.

    You have 2 states whose voters voices are silenced.

    It's a shame as you have 2 candidates who agreed in their senate voting records (that's when Obama used his voice instead of "present"). The both together, as a team, is the only way to unite.

    April 8, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  12. Michael

    The longer Hillary stays in this campaign the more harm she does to the democratic party.

    April 8, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  13. WAS 4 Hillary

    Julie we love you its your Candidate we dislike reason being.. need I say it again? – SHE IS A LIAR!
    Are you living under a rock? Look at what she did to the folks in OH she lied to them about NAFTA and the truth only came out after she won – opps too late now!
    We are simply trying to educate the folks who are a bit slow to see the real deal with Hillary... She lied about: Nafta – insulting all the trade and uninon workers, Sniper Fire – insulting the families and all those who served in the military (and the folks in Bosnia- great way to build international relations), Pregnant woman who died from lack of insurance – insulting all the folks in healthcare, The dirty politics and mud slinging she is constantly throwing even when asked about her Penn secret backdoor deals with Columbia – insulting all the people in America.
    Hillary is worng for America PERIOD!! She is only known because of Bill!!

    April 8, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. JerryZ

    Listen, everyone knows Hillary will destroy Obama. If she can't win, she'll make sure no democrats will win. Too bad the uneducated voter that Bill and Hillary brags about are too blind and stupid to realize the lies and scandals they bring. One good thing so far there's not many out there because Obama is ahead. When she senses she will loose, she will tear up Obama and the party. Then we'll have war happy senile McCain in office, continuing the Bush presidency for at least four more years. Get ready to go to war with Iran and the economy bottom out.

    April 8, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  15. Michelle, Pennsylvania

    Every day the Clinton campaign says or does something to increase or aggrevate the discord among democratic voters. I had seriously considered voting for her until I realized that her strategy was "win at all costs" and that her self-serving approach would last into her presidency. I don't want that for my state, and I don't want that for my country.

    Much of Pennsylvaina loves Barack Obama already and the rest of the state is quickly realizing what another, different, Clinton presidency would meam for the country.

    Senator Obama has spent his life serving populations very similiar to those across Pennsylvania, and I believe in my heart that he will continue to do so when he is President.

    As an aside, to the poster who complained about the mean things Obama supporters suposedly say...read your own post again! You are negative, you are being rude by saying "Obamanation" and by calling all Republicans sexist, and I don't like your tactics. I refuse to comment on personal likeability, as you have, because I don't know you and refuse to lump you with any other Hillary supporter. How is that for respectful?

    OBAMA '08....YES WE CAN!!!!

    April 8, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. Ray

    Hey Julie,

    You brought up almost every divisive talking point (FL and MI, sexism, media bias, "Obamanation", bashing Obama supporters). And you say you want respect?

    Respect is earned, not given away.

    I'm an Obama supporter, so let me say something mean and nasty. If Hillary wins the nomination, I'll gladly vote for her. How did I do?

    Take care, and maybe chat with someone about getting that chip off your shoulder. We need to stick together for the race to come.

    April 8, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. sheanne

    Hey "Worried"; I too live in Florida and I voted. Just because you didn't is your problem. Too bad, so sad.........

    April 8, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  18. Sue from Ga.

    Must mean more trash coming from Clinton. If this party had any balls at all, they would stand up and tell Hillary to sit down and shut up, because it is she who is ruining the Democratic party. Tell Bill to shut up to. If she is their candidate, myself and about 100 other independents will vote McCain.

    April 8, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. Troy

    Stick a fork in Hillary Clinton she is done!!

    April 8, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. GrumpsNKaty

    FL & MI Democrats, how about holding the general election in your states in July instead of November. That way your votes will once again matter more than the other states. Rules, smules, FL and MI can do what they want because they are "special, diversity states". werd fewl.

    April 8, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. zieras

    Julie: Hillary will win the great state of Pennsylvania by a HUGE margin. She is beloved here!!

    Right on! Hillary go for it!

    April 8, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. debra

    They report that the story about the pregnant girl was not true in how many news casts? Now they have proved that it is true. the girls family came forward and she was turned away at the first hospital she went to. I heard it on the news this morning but am still waiting to see it on CNN. Hillary Clinton would make a much better president.

    April 8, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  23. gary


    April 8, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. EBC

    Then call Hillary and tell her to pack her bags and head back to her cottage in Pinchole. Simple fix.

    Sen. Obama can then get ready to "rumble" with McCain who is already crying like a baby over some comments made by a Obama supporters.

    April 8, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. Tim

    THEREFORE, I Hillary Clinton, Democratic Candidate for President, pledge I shall not campaign or participate in any state which schedules a presidential election primary or caucus before Feb. 5, 2008, except for the states of Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, as “campaigning” is defined by rules and regulations of the DNC.

    Signed August 31, 2007.

    April 8, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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