[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/27/art.hastert0727.gi.jpg caption="Former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, center, spoke with CNN Tuesday about his Democratic successor Speaker Nancy Pelosi, foreground, and the upcoming midterm elections."]
Washington (CNN) - Former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert has some advice for Democrats if they want to remain in the majority: stop the squabbling.
Hastert was on Capitol Hill Tuesday meeting with former colleagues when he told CNN that the Democrats' agenda and leadership style are adversely affecting their prospects in the November midterm elections.
"I had a philosophy of leadership," the former high school wrestling coach said. "If the coach is in the headlines every day, the team is in trouble. If the team is in the headline everyday, then you're doing alright."
The recent tussle between House Democrats and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs over the likelihood of losing big in November and the renewed press coverage of Rep. Charlie Rangel's problems with the House Ethics Committee have taken their toll on the Democrats coordinated messaging efforts, making top House Dems focus on issues they would rather not have to discuss.
But Hastert had kind words for his Democratic successor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying "she's got a lot of talent," while also blaming her for creating a leadership structure that is top heavy. "All the decisions are coming from one point. They're not bubbling up."
With the current House's passage of a health care bill and vote in support for climate change legislation known as "cap-and-trade," Hastert contends that the ingredients are there for a scenario similar to 1994, when Democrats lost their majority to Republicans for the first time four decades. During the 103rd Congress, which preceded the 1994 midterm elections, House Democrats also supported a controversial health care measure and voted to tax carbon emissions.
"All those things are there now. So I can't say it will be identical, but the contents are a recipe," he said.