Democrat campaign chair openly warns candidates to stay away from Obama’s convention
Well, now we know why so many prominent Democrats are fleeing in terror from Obama’s presidential convention in Charlotte: the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is telling them to run away.
It’s not clear whether Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) has been saying this in private, but on Tuesday he said it publicly to the Reuters Washington Summit. The ostensible reason for warning Democrat candidates away from Charlottegeddon was the same one embattled Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) gave when she announced she would not attend on Monday: they’re supposed to be remaining in their districts to campaign.
“If they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts,” said Israel. He claimed this had nothing to do with Barack Obama’s cratering popularity. “I don’t care if the President was at 122 percent favorability right now. I think candidates should be in their districts… A trip to Charlotte may be interesting, but why leave your districts?”
Incidentally, while 122 percent favorability might be hyperbolic, I think President Obama has a realistic shot at securing 122 percent of eligible voters in certain districts.
As it happens, Rep. Israel actually spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He compared candidate John Kerry to the Minutemen, JFK, and Robert Gould Shaw, the Union commander of a black regiment portrayed in the movie Glory. Yes, really.
Two more Democrats in tough races, Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp and incumbent congressman John Barrow, just decided to take Israel’s advice and skip the party convention, which is starting to look as if it could be comfortably held in the conference room of a Motel 6.
Heitkamp is running for the Senate in North Dakota, which National Journal notes “has leaned increasingly Republican in the last few years,” while “President Obama is unpopular in the state.” Heitkamp has “distanced herself from the President, particularly on energy issues.”
Barrow’s spokesman mumbled something about having a lot of campaign events to deal with during the Party convention, but “couldn’t give an exact schedule because the events have not been finalized,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
That’s right – Barrow is a congressman from Georgia, running for a fifth term in a recently redrawn district located about 3 hours from Charlotte by car. Spokeswoman Andrea Bozek of the Republican Congressional Committee jeered, “Why miss the party? John Barrow might as well get some reward for backing Obama’s bailouts, spending sprees, and ObamaCare, because the last thing voters are going to do is reward him in November.”
Actually, it looks more like Rep. Israel was trying to provide cover for the rapidly growing list of no-shows, rather than giving advice. President Obama can cris-cross the country hundreds of times to raise funds, but these Democrat candidates can’t spare four days to attend his big convention in the major airline hub of Charlotte, North Carolina and show their support? Er, make that three days – the Party had to cancel one day of festivities due to insufficient funding.