Top Democrat advises candidates to skip convention
June 27th, 2012
11:55 AM ET
11 years ago

Top Democrat advises candidates to skip convention

(CNN) - Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the committee charged with getting Democrats elected to the House, is discouraging candidates up for re-election from attending the Democratic National Committee in September.

"If they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts," Israel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said at a Reuters event in Washington on Tuesday, according to the news outlet.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

His remarks came after being asked about several Democratic members of Congress who've announced plans to skip the big gathering this year, set to take place Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Their decisions have raised questions over whether some Democrats are trying to distance themselves from President Barack Obama this election year.

The DCCC on Wednesday, however, stood by the chairman's comments, saying Israel's advice wasn't based on the president's poll numbers.

"Spending five days away from voters who can vote for you and donors who can give to you may not be the right decision 75 days out from Election Day," an official with the committee said.

Israel also argued his advice had nothing to do with Obama: "I don't care if the president was at 122 percent favorability right now. I think (candidates) should be in their districts."

He wasn't the first Democratic leader to urge candidates to focus on their districts. In 2008, then-DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen gave the same guidance, telling candidates and incumbents to stay home and fight in the final stretch before November's elections.

However, some analysts say the decision to skip the event can send the wrong message to the party at large.

"It's a dis to the president," Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor, said Tuesday. "It's saying 'me associating with you isn't good for me.' It's hard to spin that wheel. But we've seen that in every re-election for years."

The growing list of Democrats forgoing the convention includes Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Rep. Mark Critz of Pennsylvania, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Rep. Kathy Hochul of New York, among others.

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who faces a tough re-election battle, this week became perhaps the biggest name to send regrets.

"I've got a really hard election," McCaskill said. "If you had a really hard election and it was after Labor Day would you go to North Carolina to a bunch of parties and glad-handing or would you stay home and work as hard as you know how to convince Missourians they should rehire you?"

Democrats are also quick to point out that Rep. Denny Rehburg of Montana, a Republican running for Senate this year, has said he plans to pass on the GOP convention in August.

Also see:

McCaskill to skip Democratic convention

Poll: Obama, Romney race still tight

Obama: 'I hope you still believe in me'

Giuliani gives Turner a primary day boost

Filed under: 2012 • DCCC • Democratic National Convention
soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Ashley from Ohio

    Once again, Israel follows a different set of rules from the civilized world . . .

    June 27, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. MTATL67

    Not to smart since President is beating DUCK and COVER Romney FL45%-41%, PA 45%-39%, OH 47%-38%.

    June 27, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Rick

    I thought that President Obama’s idea of gifting contributions was absolutely brilliant! I just gave each of my 4 nephews and nieces lifetime memberships in the NRA! Thanks for the idea!

    June 27, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. Leigh2VA

    Is that why Obama is running down to Florida every few days for fundraising?

    June 27, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. Malory Archer

    I think they should cancel BOTH conventions and replace them with a scaled back set of meetings which accomplish the construction of party platform, and that's it.

    The conventions are a HUGE waste of money and are just a big, stupid TV show.


    Peter, that's the most intelligent post I've read all day; thoughtful and to the point. It's a miracle it made it past the moderators!

    June 27, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  6. Ken

    The Dem's are weak and in the end they are the type of person that you don't want with you in a fight, and the President has been in a fight with HATE from day one. He'll get re-elected and then he can take the golves off and fight bear fisted with the GOP. I can't wait for it lets see who's start to crying first in Congress

    June 27, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. John

    Leigh, I'll bet you're not particularly well off financially. When people like you it's your best opportunity to ask them for a donation.

    June 27, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. steve

    If they want to win, they cannot be seen supporting the President..

    June 27, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of OBAMA FAILURE

    Leigh2VA - Is that why Obama is running down to Florida every few days for fundraising?
    Yup, he's milked California so dry he's got cities now declaring bankruptcy out there! Now he's looking to con money out of all the old people by scaring them about medicare. The usual Democrat election tactic.

    June 27, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. Investment Advisor

    @Jean Sartre.... I'm a conservative and I never said rising gas prices were Obamas fault Jean. Just stating the facts ...not pontificating on emotional or irrational thoughts! You might consider the same when you decide to lump us all with the same thought process. In fact you just stereotyped yourself into that category that many Republicans reserve for Liberals. How about that? Food for thought.

    June 27, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  11. Thinks2010

    Why anyone not participating in deciding the party platform would bother to go to a convention to nominate a candidate who is unopposed is beyond me. It's just a big fat waste of time and money.

    June 27, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  12. ourjungle

    All of the lower echelon democrate candidates,that already have their canidate position sewed-up,are being asked to stay home and sent in their extra campaign funds,and, if they have plans for marriage, to donate the money that they were going to spent on gowns,rings and gifts to Obama. Also,for the rest of this year, please forget about giving to charity,or to your church,send you loose change to Obama.Failure to comply,will result 20 lashes from the lash Czar.

    June 27, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    Unlike Republican which are authortian and run the Party like a gulag, Democrats have always allowed a wide disparity of views and ideas to enter the Party: there is not a litnus test in the Democratic Party. The Repubs its always: Fall in line or wich to H..l you had"
    Where were you during the Republican primaries? If you buy into Keynesian economics the probably none of what you saw made sense, but Republicans are united only by conservative principles, a small, limited scope federal government, liberty for people, belief in a competitive marketplace for businesses, a strong and capable national defense and faith in the founding fathers and the Constitution. Even within these points there are Republicans at every point in the spectrum. Mitt Romney was among the least intensely ideologically pure, but we all know he will carry well with Independents who will be so important in this election. He will also be good at chilling out the intense political partisanship that has threatened the effectiveness of Washington. He is a "get the job done" guy. Just when we need one.

    June 27, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  14. Steve- Illinois

    Even the Dems can't run from Jimmy Carter II fast enough!! Amazing how a party can implode in such a short time!

    June 27, 2012 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. jsilver

    Say this is not a warning like it will be something bad- it's just a reality check for candidates: In their districts they are getting votes, at the convention they are having a big party since it is clear Obama will be re-nominated. They can watch the speeches as home with supporters for example. The guy is right spot on I would say- it's not an anti-Obama thing. I have been a delegate to 3 national conventions and a guest at another and when the incumbent is renominated it is pretty much just a big celebration.

    June 27, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  16. ronb

    LOL. This guy is a hopeless fella. He's probably already been told to get ready to find a new place to hang his hat. He's probably backing Rand Paul's sinking (no pun intended) of the flood insurance program. But, asked for it! You got it....Tea Party!! LOL Hope all you poor souls in FL are listening to your tea party favorites??! Guess you should have started saving money when cantor said the gov couldn't help in disasters. Remember that??

    OBAMA/BIDEN...the only adults in the game.

    June 27, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  17. DRS

    I think that they wrong for not going to the convention. They are only hurting themselves. They are just haters.

    June 27, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  18. BeverlyNC

    I live in Charlotte and the city is spending a TON of money hosting the DNC Convention and now Steve Israel is telling candidates not to come? Maybe the Democrats should just save the money on the whole convention and use it to help these candidates up for re-election. We already know what the Democrats stand for, what work they have done to help the People, and are ready right now to bring down the Republican Party. The Republicans desperately need a Convention because they have NO CLUE what they stand for except corporate dictatorship, cheating to win with voter suppression laws, and complete lies about President Obama's record. If they told you all they plan to destroy that you rely upon like Medicare, Social Security, worker rights, womens rights, veteran rights, healthcare rights, welfare programs for those the Republican-destroyed economy made even poorer and killing all public education – no one would vote for them. Find out what Republicans are FOR and you will run the other way. They are determined to kill the middle class, more jobs, all healthcare, all retirement, all education, and hand it all to corporations. Vote Democratic if you want to have anything left and a recovered economy.

    June 27, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  19. gavin

    The next election will be very interesting. Will all those folks who drank the Obama Koolaid like I did vote for him again? Slogans like "change you can believe In" and "yes we can" and "forward" all sound good, but the actions of Obama just don't match up with the words. I admit I bought into Obama, but as the saying goes "fooled once, okay, fooled twice shame on me. I'm tired of all the Obama speeches, all his broken, empty promises, Obama had his opportunity. I'm ready for a change.

    June 27, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. Keith

    Seems like a strategy a lot of people use with their local sports team. You ignore them when it appears they're having trouble, but a soon as there is a winning streak you'll want to act like you supported them all awhile.

    June 27, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. mark

    I think they should cancel BOTH conventions and replace them with a scaled back set of meetings which accomplish the construction of party platform, and that's it.

    The conventions are a HUGE waste of money and are just a big, stupid TV show.


    Agree entirely, self-serving wastes of time on BOTH sides of the aisle and achieves nothing. But having said that I would not want Rep. Steve Israel in the corner with me in the knowledge I could not care less about his team, its all about Steve.

    June 27, 2012 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  22. Desmond, Objectively in Canada

    I am not even slightly impressed by this "Top Democrat". If the Democratic reps have been worth their salt at all they SHOULD NEVER NEED TO GROVEL to the electorate . They should easily be able to join other democrats in true solidarity at the convention. As I have said before, YOU DEMOCRATS ARE YOUR WORST ENEMIES. You do not need the GOP to lose. You can do so all on your own. I thought only the GOP saw the average citizen as stupid. Do you think people do not see through this kind of pandering?!

    June 27, 2012 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  23. ThinkAgain

    Against those Democratic officials up for election who don't go to the convention, the GOP will run ads saying, "Hey, look at all these Democrats staying away from the convention because they don't want to be associated with President Obama."

    Against those Democratic officials up for election who do go to the convention, the GOP will run ads saying, "See, the Democratic candidate cares more about being seen at the Democratic Convention than they care about you."

    That's the GOP: They don't have a record of accomplishments to run on and all they have to offer our country is the same tried-and-failed policies, so this is the kind of nonsense they put out. WHEN THEY SHOULD BE WORKING TO HELP OUR COUNTRY.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice.

    June 27, 2012 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  24. Edwin

    If Obama were at 90% popularity, they would certainly attend - anything to be near him (and by extension, his popularity).

    He's not - he's around 45% to 50%. So why should they spend the money to go there, instead of spending the five days in their districts? This is a no-brainer. Unless they are big-wig in the party, they have no reason to attend anyway, except to hang out and go to cool parties.

    June 27, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  25. AJ

    Another Blue dog coward afraid of the GOP.

    June 27, 2012 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
1 2 3 4