September 14th, 2010
10:48 PM ET
11 years ago

Democratic leaders try to calm election jitters

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="House Democratic leaders used a closed-door session Tuesday to try to calm election-day jitters."]
Washington (CNN) – House Democratic leaders returned to the Capitol and used their first closed door meeting Tuesday night with rank and file Democrats to try to calm jittery nerves by delivering a series of presentations making the case that things aren't as dire for Democrats as they seem, according to multiple sources in the room.

They also heard from Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who made the case that the Democrats push to extend tax cuts only for the middle class and below is their bet against Republicans.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a preview of her private remarks before going in, insisting to reporters that she stands by her prediction that Democrats will hold control of the House.

"I am not yielding one grain of sand. I want to have the same big strong majority we have but I feel certain that we will," said Pelosi, responding to a question from CNN about whether she still thinks they will keep the majority.

She also sought to lay out the stark difference between Democrats and Republicans on key issues just as the president has been doing since last week.

"Preserve Social Security, tax cuts for the middle class, make it in America as contrasted with the Republicans who want to privatize social security, tax cuts for the wealthy and send jobs overseas," said Pelosi, who also responded to a CNN question about whether she may lose her speaker's gavel by replying sharply, "this has nothing to do with me."

Several sources say that inside the hour plus House Democratic meeting, members heard Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen go through internal polling and argue that in some key races, Democrats are "starting to see some improvement."

But the headline speaker was Greenberg, who used his polling to help Democratic leaders convince a divided caucus that doing away with tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans is the most potent issue they have to narrow the gap with Republicans.

According to two sources in the room, Greenberg showed Democratic members data that the gap in the generic poll between Democrats and Republicans narrows 5 points when voters are presented with the argument that Democrats want to cut taxes for the middle class and let tax cuts for wealthiest Americans expire.

One of the sources said Greenberg told Democrats they have to "get into a fight" with Republicans on an issue, and that tax cuts is the one that energizes the base the most, and lures independent voters.

Still, a number of moderate Democrats in tough fights to keep their seats do not agree, and say they want all Bush era tax cuts to be extended, even for upper brackets.

CNN has learned that Rep. Jim Matheson, D-UT, stood up in the meeting to make that case.

Michigan Democrat Gary Peters told CNN that at least 20 Members have signed a letter he is circulating with a group of Democrats urging Pelosi to move ahead with a vote on a short term extension for all tax rates.

While Democratic leaders want to move forward on a vote just to extend tax cuts for middle class voters, they are also wary of further endangering some of their most vulnerable members.

That's why they have not yet made a decision on when or if to have a vote before November's election.

House Budget Chairman John Spratt, D-SC, who is in a difficult re-election fight, acknowledged to CNN afterwards "it's a tough environment" but that he heard a "convincing argument" that Democrats are going to do well in November.

But perhaps most telling was his answer on tax cuts: He is undecided.

Filed under: House • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Reality Check

    Hopefully at least Pelosi gets the boot.

    September 14, 2010 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |

    Pelosi, this two-bit streetwalker must go. And do it in November. She probably is not even running for another term at this time. But if we have to wait for Obama we can do. THE TEA PARTIERS. Have a great day racist.

    September 14, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  3. Riley

    The Dems will win 100 seats or more. They are America's only working party. Obama/Dems 2010/12 for an even greater America.

    September 14, 2010 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  4. Snow

    All that botox has gone to Pelosi's pea brain. She is a loon and definitely ignorant of the reality that dems will lose at least the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate.

    September 14, 2010 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  5. Aaron

    If the Democrats have any desire to prevail in Nov., they need to capitalize on the hard work of the NY Times reporter who traced the Tea Party's funding and motives back to the billionaire Koch brothers. Some Americans may still be lucid to realize that billionaire have motives for getting control of Washington. It's doubtful that those motives have anything to do with benefitting the average American.

    September 14, 2010 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. Bart Johnson

    How utterly, pathetically, disgustingly typical. Whether extending the tax cuts for all may or may not help boost the economy and job creation is not the question. For these vermin, the ONLY question is determining the strategy that has the highest probability of saving their skins in November. Whether you consider yourself Republican or Democrat, conservative, liberal or libertarian, this kind of machiavellian scheming has got to make you want to puke.

    September 14, 2010 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  7. valwayne

    9.6% UNEMPLOYMENT! Trillions and trillions in corrupt spending and debt! Failed arrogant left wing policy after failed arrogant left wing policy that have damaged the nation and put us on the road to decline. More arrogance and contempt for average working Americans than we've ever seen! We desperately need to balance our Government in Nov by firing every Democrat on the ballot!!!

    September 14, 2010 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  8. Mark

    Well what else is she suppossed to say? She's the House Majority Leader, it's her job to bolster the troops. That doesn't mean she is right, or even that she has any idea what she's talking about (she usually doesn't), but it isn't surprising that she would say this.

    September 14, 2010 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  9. Gary's Thoughts

    Pelosi, Reid and Obama have run up our deficit so much that our long term economic viability is in question...these three need to go.

    September 14, 2010 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  10. Steven Zupp

    Oh My...Oh My....They finally realized their in a shit load of political trouble...Oh My!!! To little to late Dems..but just so you know, it's not just you guys who are losing power...oh's the GOP as well.
    You see, we're all, well, most of us True Americans, are without a showdow of doubt, sick and tired of all career pukeatitions who've damn near spent us (USA) out of existence. These closed door sessions aren't gonna help either. you see, I'm in Canton,Ohio and your boy Bocceiri is gonna drop his job as well. I'm gauranteeing that.
    Every Big name Politician is gonna drop out of a job come November.
    So whatever "October Surprise" B.O. uses...better be a doozy.
    Because Frankly I can't wait to see you all hang.

    September 15, 2010 12:01 am at 12:01 am |
  11. Shelley196

    "Still, a number of moderate Democrats in tough fights to keep their seats do not agree, and say they want all Bush era tax cuts to be extended, even for upper brackets."

    Do these people want what's best for the American people or do they just want to keep their jobs? Who is going to lead, the Republicans? They've been leading these Democrats by the nose trying to stop them any way they can. These Bozos need to stand up and show real leadership, stop chasing votes and get to work. That goes for both parties.

    September 15, 2010 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  12. Ship Em

    reid and pelosi need to be sent home for the damage they have done to the nation.Hope the good people of Nevada and CA will see that justice is done and exile these two.Worst congressional leaders in history.

    September 15, 2010 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  13. ThinkAgain

    I'm with you all the way, Madam Speaker! Our country CANNOT afford to return to the tried-and-failed policies of the GOP – and God forbid we should let the teabaggers, with their nutty, racist, ignorant ways, get a foothold in shaping our future.

    There are more Democrats than Republicans – all we need to do is get out and VOTE!

    September 15, 2010 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Why don;t the Democrats run on what was accomplished int he past 20 months instaed of trying to make excuses?
    They ran on healthcare and passed it.
    They ran on getting us out of Iraq- we're out.
    They ran on ending the degeulation thay caused our recession and bank failure and did something about it.
    They saved millions of jobs for teachers, auto workers and basically saved the American car industry.
    What are they ashamed of? These wer their issues and they delivered!

    September 15, 2010 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  15. Slider

    Don't worry Dems; CNN is jittery, too.

    Rightfully so.

    September 15, 2010 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  16. Fed Up

    I think she also said something about "no whining." I guess she is a believer in the "Do as I say, not as I do" way of thinking. She is the biggest whiner. Oops. I take that back. After "they talk about me like a dog", Obama takes the cake. Vote 'em in. Vote'em out.

    September 15, 2010 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  17. Political Joe

    (D) Jim Matheson of Utah is trying to save his seat in the House. He claims ultra conservative now but he's never fought so hard against Nancy Pelosi before. She's not going to listen to him anyway. We would do much better to replace him with a Republican where his vote would surely count against Pelosi and if we can do that well nationwide then we can get rid of her as Speaker and then we can begin to repair the damage they've all done. If repair is possible. They've done a pretty bang up job of destorying all we've got already. Vote Democrats and Rhinos out!

    September 15, 2010 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  18. Renea

    Democrats keep standing for what you believe dont give in the middle class really need these tax cuts the rich can make it with or without them.

    September 15, 2010 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  19. Foxfan

    She's lying to herself.

    September 15, 2010 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  20. Common sense

    Democrats need to tell voters its ok to be angery, but not crazy. Making a rush decision with false intel got us in Iraq. Voters need to know every bill that pass last year to now all had to grow middle class america. The "health care was design to give america the same coverage as a member of congress. The Wall St Reform was design to help everyday working people an opportunity talk control of the retirement, saving and investor to get a say how much a CEO can make. The middleclass america score a huge victory in Financial Aide Reform to help save monies on education. So, Democrats their are no jitters. The choose to move forward or backward. America always move forward in goodtimes and especially in bad times. Now get out there and win this thang!!!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2010 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  21. Al

    I'm a Democrat and right now they are so weak. You got to be joking right, extend the tax cuts for the rich. They will never win because they are not showing any back bone.

    September 15, 2010 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  22. Reggie

    Republicans claim they want to stop deficit spending, then why extend tax cuts for millionaires who don't need help, especially when the cuts are un-funded?

    September 15, 2010 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  23. barry

    Keep telling yourself Nancy you will keep your throne and continue your reign to ruin the country. If it makes you feel better then dream on. In November not only will you not have the keys you'll be riding in the trunk with your swamp rats.

    September 15, 2010 07:41 am at 7:41 am |