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. clara

    oboma doesn't have a chance to win he is weak and doesn't understand NOTHING he just says what he wants people to hear good by oboma he has more book sences then common sences book sences doesn't get one very for in this world but commin sences does and if i missed spelled u can corret it thank u and why are you all against a women all i hear is oboma this and obams that remember common sence

    April 8, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Ravi

    "Refine" is a bit of a stretch when it comes to the Clinton campaign. I fail to see how launching a slew of negative ads, combined with lies and half truths in any way defines a candidate. That being said, lies, half truths and distortions are a Clinton hallmark.

    April 8, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  3. zieras

    You all keep reiterating the lies of Hillary!
    What about the lies of your born again saint obama? In his Black Power, all African exodus "church", his patriotism is to Africa because that is what his church believes in. On the church web site, not a word about America.
    Anyways, did obama not come with one wh00pie of a lie when he said he'd never heard the anti-American racist words of his beloved reverend? He confessed in his speech about racism that indeed he'd been present in his church and heard what his reverend have to spew out.
    Frankly, I am scared for the future of America if obama wins the presidency, we barely know him. Can only hope and pray his handlers will keep a close watch on this man.

    April 8, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. Veronica

    The media and press have already SELECTED the Democratic nominee and it will be Obama. The party is already divided and it is too little too late to try and bring the party together. I am a Hillary supporter and will remain so. The Obama supporters with their personal attacks and negative comments have completely turned me away from ever voting for him. If the superdelegates follow suit and Select Obama before the convention, I will have to reconsider my loyalty to the Democratic party. I am a life long Democrat (35+years) but I am so disappointed with the pary. I personally have a real problem with not resolving the Michigan and Florida votes before the convention. If I am a Hillary supporter living in one of those states, Obama would have to help me understand why I should support him in the General election when he did not want my vote to count in the primary election.

    April 8, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  5. clara

    go hillary goOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO we are for you here in ky. at least the biggest part of us are oboma goneeee

    April 8, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. Tim

    Yeah....um....don't know what you're reading NZ...but there have been A LOT of negative and nasty comments against Obama from Clinton supporters.

    I'm not saying it's right...but it just makes me sick when people like you come on these boards and make broad sweeping generalizations, based on lies and present it as fact.

    Let's be honest. There's been a lot of negative comments from supporters of both candidates. It's an ugly campaign...with strong opinions on both sides of the fence.

    "Don't try to church it up, Joe Dirt."

    April 8, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. Mary

    It's amazing how much hate I have read from Obama supporters.
    Horrible things just come out no matter what Hillary says or does.
    She gets blamed for taking it negative yet I clearly recall that Obama was the first one to come out with "she is unelectable." I'm sure his supporters won't see that as negative tho.
    This entire process has been a learning experience and a sad one at that. There is no way I will throw my vote in with all the hate I have seen, it just wouldn't feel right.

    April 8, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. gary


    April 8, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. tony t

    This democrat is going to vote for McCain if Hillary doesn't get the nomination.Why? No ,not because of what they said to each other,It's because of the press' bias against Hillary,Obama's refusal for revotes in Michigan and most of all I cannot bring myself to vote for a father that brought his young children and sat silently to hate speeches against americans and America.Join me and vote Hillary or McCain.

    April 8, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. P

    Haha...thank you for proving my point for me.
    All of you Obama supporters have now decided to attack Julie for her comments which weren't even negative towards Obama. Typical. Lay off no one deserves to be treated like that...not Julie, not Hillary...
    I don't care if you like what these people say or not...but it's called respect.
    Get off your high horses and start realizing how ignorant and childish you all sound.
    Let's talk politics not gossip like 15 year olds.

    April 8, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. EBC


    You've got to be joking when you stated Obama is running a negative camp. ARE you kidding me?

    Geezzz, who keeps shooting her foot over and over? It's NOT Sen. Obama who lied about Bosnia, Korsovo, Irish Treaty, Pregnant woman, Penn fiasco, now is claiming she's a Jayhawks fan etc. Get real.

    Get a grip... how predictable that you Clinton supporters always blame everyone else for your candidate's own self-destructive demise.

    April 8, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  12. Ardnuas

    McCain is going to win if the Democrats keep "THROWING THE KITCHEN SINK"

    April 8, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  13. donnajp

    Doesn't the DNC realize that they not Clinton are the ones who have alienated the Clinton supporters. They should have stayed neutral or at lease never asked Sen. Clinton to withdraw. You have a bunch of over 50 year old women really p>>>ed and that is trouble for the party not Clinton. We are very angry and it will take more that kind words after the nominee is chosen for us to feel like we are still part of the Democratic Party.

    April 8, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  14. Andrew, Chicago

    All of this certainly seems like "politics as usual," doesn't it?

    April 8, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  15. Joe in PA

    I heard over the weekend a story that the Columbian President or representative mentioned Barack Obama specifically in a speech and his opposition to the proposed free trade agreement with Colombia, while the story made point that the same person did not mention Hillary Clinton. Has anyone in the media asked the question, "Why was Clinton not mentioned?". Then we find out that a Clinton campaign representative is not opposed to the proposed free trade agreement with Colombia and was actively negotiating with Columbia. Did Columbia know the familiar Clinton rhetoric of saying anything to the voters to be elected.. Barack Obama has convinced me of the change in Washington to "Mean what you say"
    It would not suprise me one bit, if given the chance, she would vote for it. I would also hate for Hillary to wake up at 3am to answer the phone and misspeak, then use the excuse of sleep deprivation. Hillary if you are sleep deprived, don't pick up the phone.

    April 8, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  16. Thomas, LA

    It's obvious Hillary's destructive refusal to admit Obama is the winning nominee is damaging the Democratic Party. Look at all the fair-weather Democrats posting here whining about how they will vote for McSame if the Hillary can't change the rules and steal the election.

    Look, if you really want change and honest leadership, it's time that Hillary and her supporters unite positively behind Obama and remember the common goal is to beat McSame.

    There's just too much at stake to entertain your hurt feelings.
    Remember: you're an adult now.

    April 8, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  17. lol

    the dnc is realizing obama can't win the big states against hillary, let alone mccain. he outspends her by 5-1, and he still can't manage to win the big states. what is democratic about forcing a candidate to drop out of the race. this is america let the voters speak. the media, and the dnc may love obama, but middle america is getting tired of the platitudes of change.

    April 8, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  18. Nobama

    Julie ... well put. Remember, Bush said he was going to be a "uniter" and see how things have turned out. I WILL NOT vote for Obama if he is the nominee ... I will vote for McCain.

    April 8, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  19. Scott L

    All they need to do is watch Obama speaking to General Petraeus today. Obama really has no clue what is going on in the world, does he?

    April 8, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. ILoveAmerica

    I hereby call on all uncommitted superdelegates to announce their choice as soon as the Pennsylvania primary is over. I believe the Pennsylvania results will make it very obvious to most of them that Hillary has no chance of winning, and if they all announce their choice at that point, Hillary will finally withdraw.

    April 8, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  21. Concerned Voter

    I couldn't agree more with julie35. I hope that McCAin chooses Bobby Jingal as his running mate, then neither Democrat will have a chance. This guy has the expereince that Obama lacks, and none of the baggage that Hillary just can't transcend. He and and McCain would make a great ticket. By, the way, I am a long time Independent who recently went Democrat (major mistake; I live in Florida). I am disgusted by the media ramming Obama down my throat;I will never vote for someone who has the potential to be so divisive. He's a Marxist, for Christ sakes.

    April 8, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  22. Concerned Canadian

    After all the bias media attack on Hillary, after all this racial affiliation Obama has with Rev.Wright, after all the two faced out of the wood work politicians with their '15 minutes of fame' endorsements, after all of Obama's excuses in trying to distance himself from criminals like Rezko, the sexism in the media, the highly partisan commentary of tv journalists on all the major networks etc., Howard Dean's faux paus,
    Pelosi cat fight with Hillary, Ferraro being gutted by the extremist Black Liberation Theologists for being a racist....this all too much for the Democratic Party and whoever the Democratic nominee will be that in November the GOP will rip them apart......get ready folks for an inauguration parade for McCain on primetime !!

    April 8, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. BH

    You Hillary haters and left wingers have done enough damage to Obama by attacking Hillary supporters. You were mean and cry babies. You left wingers and media will be responsible for many democrats not voting for Obama in the general election.

    Blame Hillary for attacking Obama or throwing kitchen sink or whatever. And pretend camp Obama has been very nice. Let me remind u Hillary didnot start the attack. She was taking the high road for a while until Obama and Edwars started attcking her as a crdible human being.

    April 8, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  24. Giselle Evans

    I find all of this discussion regarding AA support of Barack very disingenuous. Obviously Barack has widespread support or he wouldn't be doing as well as he has.

    And if AA's support Barack in large numbers, so what? Doesn't the majority of Hillary's support come from Whites? Where's the criticism of that? Why aren't more whites supporting Barack? Or is that just expected and accepted. On what basis?

    And when I receive material encouraging me to support Hillary as the first woman president, is that bias–emotional blackmail? Should I have whined about that?

    Why does CNN give airtime to a couple of whiners who want to get upset by a "pro Barack, AA candidate" poem? Was that really that "threatening" or painful?

    Why not give airtime to the swastika painted on an Obama campaign poster or the myriad racist rants against his candidacy?

    I thought that CNN was the actually "fair and balanced" cable news station...

    April 8, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  25. pablo

    google John McCain's ex wife and see if you will still campaign for him. It's how he came into politics in the first place.

    April 8, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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