July 30th, 2014
02:28 PM ET
9 years ago

Top House Democrat: 'You bet we're going to run' on impeachment

Washington (CNN) - Congressional Democrats say they're the gifts that keep on giving.

Rep. Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Wednesday that conservative calls to impeach President Barack Obama and the House GOP's push to sue the President are motivating the Democratic base in advance of November's midterm elections.

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"You bet we're going to run on a Congress that is just obsessed with lawsuits, suing the President, talking about impeaching him, instead of solutions for the middle class, talking about jobs and infrastructure. You bet that we're going to ask people to support us based on that contrast," Israel declared at a briefing of CNN political reporters and producers.

Saying that Republicans have "stepped into a mess on this," the seven-term congressman from New York added that "any time voters see contrasts between our priorities and their (the GOP's) priorities, it is beneficial to us. No question about that....we win on contrast."

Last month House Speaker John Boehner announced a lawsuit against Obama, claiming the President violated the Constitution by circumventing Congress and changing the federal health care law's employer mandate on his own. The House is expected Wednesday to approve – along party lines – a resolution authorizing the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee, called for Obama's impeachment, becoming the latest voice on the right to make the suggestion.

On Tuesday, Boehner flatly denied that congressional Republicans are moving to impeach Obama, blasted talk about it as "a scam started by Democrats at the White House."

"We have no plans to impeach the President. We have no future plans," Boehner told reporters after a weekly meeting with GOP members. Boehner has emphasized several times publicly that he disagrees with Palin and other conservatives pushing impeachment over their claims Obama's grossly exceeded his executive authority.

Boehner said "this whole talk about impeachment" comes from "the President's own staff" and from congressional Democrats "because they're trying to rally their people to give money and to show up in this year's elections."

Motivating the base

Israel says talk of impeachment and lawsuit against Obama is motivating the Democratic party's base.

"The phone calls, the emails, people signing up, wanting volunteer on campaigns, has surged literally over the past several weeks. Now it always surges as you get closer to an election, but I'm telling you the August numbers are what the Octobers numbers should be," Israel said.

And he added that "their accusations of presidential overreach have become a Republican overreach and that is motivating swing voters and persuadable voters."

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

When it comes to the battle for the House, Democrats will need all the help they can get this November. The party needs to pick up an extremely challenging 17 Republican-held seats to win back the majority from the GOP. Some of the top non-partisan political handicappers are predicting that instead of the Democrats picking up seats in the midterms, the GOP will make gains.

One reason why is the smaller midterm electorate should favor Republicans. That's because minority voters such as Latinos, and younger people and single women, all of whom are big supporters of Democrats in presidential election years, tend to cast ballots in smaller numbers in the midterms.

Democrats also have to contend with the electorate's six-year itch. The party occupying the White House in the sixth year of a presidential administration almost invariably loses seats in Congress.

And the shrinking number of truly competitive House seats isn't helping matters either.

Republicans are framing the midterms as a referendum on the President and his policies, such as Obamacare.

"I think atmospherics are really bad for the Democrats," Rep. Greg Walden, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Roll Call earlier this week. "This is shaping up far more to be a referendum election and not a good one for Democrats."

In the interview, the Oregon Republican predicted that the GOP would pick up 11 House seats in November. That would bring to 245 the number of Republicans in the chamber, the party's largest majority since 1945.

While he won't make his own predictions, Israel is pushing back on Walden's goal.

"Walden says this is a wave. They're in an undertow right now," Israel said.

Bringing in the bucks

One advantage the DCCC has is fundraising.

"We are firing on all cylinders," Israel said.

The DCCC has outraised the NRCC by some $23 million this cycle, and currently has around $8 million more in the bank right now than the NRCC.

And Israel said since Boehner first announced his lawsuit on June 24, the DCCC has raised $7.6 million on-line, with 400,000 donations, including 74,000 new donations.

And to combat the party's midterm turnout problems, Israel said the DCCC's employed a field staff six months earlier than usual, and doubled the budget for the field staff. He added the committee now has 400 field staff in 46 districts, with another 175 coming on board on August 1.

While Israel says the Democrats will run on contrast, he admitted that "we can't just talk about their mistakes. We have to have an alternative to their craziness. And the alternative is the Middle Class Jump Start, a specific package of bills and ideas proposals to address the economic concerns the middle class has."

He said that the DCCC's research shows that the top testing motivators for our base and swing voters are equal pay for women and debt relief for students.

Israel said his message is that while Republicans "got the backs of the special and their self-interests and we've got the backs of the middle class," Democrats stand for "solutions for the middle class," adding "we've got your back."

CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Sara Fischer contributed to this report

Filed under: 2014 • DCCC • House • House Democrats • House Republicans
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. PaulCat

    President Obama has gotten a lot done so far without the republicans help. They didn't make him a one time president.
    If they would only try to work with him, this country will be some much better off. Maybe they (the GOP) will open their eyes with the next bridge fall.

    July 30, 2014 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. rs


    Maybe you democrats would like to impeach Obama but making it look like this is coming from the republicans. They cannot run on their record so that is why they have to make up things to get their base motivated. The democrats are hopeless along with Obama and America can and will do better without them.
    Conspiracy Alert!

    Look- anytime one party can claim to drive down the number of the medically uninsured in America as dramatically and successfully as the ACA has done-THAT is an accomplishment to be pointed to- especially as 8 million Americans lost their health insurance under Bush. The truth is that being the first President after Bush means that accomplishments can include:
    Not killing 125,000 innocent civilians
    Not starting 2 wars
    Not cutting taxes and increasing spending
    Not crashing the economy

    Get the picture?

    Mr. Obama has plenty to count as accomplishments and a record to "run on" (not that he can run again, unfortunately). The GOP on the other hand has 6 years of national level bench warming to sell, hence the idiotic talk of lawsuits and impeachment.

    July 30, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. Michigan patriot

    Of course they want to run on that, because that's all they have. They have no record to run on.

    July 30, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC


    This is a good move by the Dems. They can totally deflect the negative press away from them by using the radical statemnets of the extreme right. The GOP used the same tactic back in 2004 and won.
    The GOP won by spreading lies and misinformation about John Kerry's military record, which he most foolishly never challenged. They even had a name for it, "swift boating." Ever hear of it before?

    July 30, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. rs


    Wait after the November elections, you will see a total new and energized congress (all republicans). You see, to pass a law or revoke a law, if you have majority on both house and senate, the laws will pass whether Obama veto it or not, that is the beauty of it.
    Actually you don't. You do have to have parties work together- and since 2008, well the GOP decided it wouldn't work with the other side- despite two Presidential election losses.
    As far as waiting until they have a majority as an excuse for the GOP not doing anything (and that isn't strictly true, they shut down the government), isn't that the same reasoning they use on the economy? Just give the rich ANOTHER tax cut and things will get better.

    You can't fix stupid- and unfortunately- that's the GOP.

    July 30, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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