During an appearance on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” last week, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D.-Fla.) said that “Americans are really going to have a very clear choice set up in November, between moderate Democrats who are centrist, where the country is, and Republicans who are really off on the right wing fringe.”
Referring to Tea Party-backed candidates such as GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller of Alaska as “on the extreme right,” Wasserman Schultz concluded that the political muscle of the growing Tea Party movement presents “a pretty difficult problem for [Republicans] going into the November elections.”
Strong medicine, all right. But Wasserman Schultz might well be advised to talk to a few of those Democratic colleagues of hers who are truly centrist for what they see as a “pretty difficult problem:” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
As polls show Democrats increasingly likely to lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives after four years, Republican House candidates from Sam Caligiuri in Connecticut’s 5th District to Van Tran in California’s 47th District increasingly pound at Democratic incumbents on the same theme: that on the major issues such as the stimulus package, Obamacare, and cap and trade, they are all voting down-the-line as Speaker Pelosi tells them to
“We are going to win back the House by taking out Pelosi’s puppets,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R.-Tex.) told HUMAN EVENTS last fall, referring to the nature of the campaign his committee was going to wage in districts where Democrats were vulnerable.
And so far, it seems to be working.
Perhaps the best proof of this is how embattled Democrats are now trying to distance themselves from the speaker who seems to symbolize her party’s leftism even more than Barack Obama.
In Indiana’s 2nd District, for example, Democratic Rep. Joseph Donnelly is now running a campaign ad which beams that he “voted against Nancy Pelosi’s energy tax.” Donnelly faces a spirited challenge from conservative Republican State Rep. Jackie Walorski.
Rep. Jason Altmire (D.-Pa.), who held out until two days before the vote on the healthcare package and then voted no, wears this vote as an Olympic gold medal. Altmire, as his campaign spots puts it, “wasn’t afraid to stand up to Nancy Pelosi.”
Rep. Mike McIntyre (D.-N.C.), long considered a moderate or even conservative Democrat, always seemed to be a safe bet for re-election in North Carolina’s 7th District. Now faced with an unusually strong challenge from Republican Ilario Pantino, deputy sheriff and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, McIntyre declares in campaign ads: “I don’t work for Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid.”
“Hopefully, there will be a better candidate [for speaker] than Nancy Pelosi,” State Sen. Mike Oliverio, Democratic nominee in West Virginia’s 1st District, was quoted in the Washington Examiner. Earlier this year, Olivero made headlines when he unseated 28-year Rep. Alan Mollohan in the Democratic primary after running a campaign slamming the incumbent for backing Obamacare and the stimulus package. Now conservative Democrat Oliverio finds himself in a close race with Republican Dave McKinley, who presses him because the first vote he will cast in Congress is to make Nancy Pelosi speaker.
Rep. Bobby Bright (D.-Ala.), a narrow winner in ’08 and now in a tight contest with Republican Martha Roby, went perhaps the farthest to distance himself from Pelosi when he was quoted on August 26 as saying: “She might get sick and die.” Even opponent Roby felt that was a bit much.
You get the picture. If you are anywhere near being a “centrist” Democrat, you know what the real problem is for you this year. And you try to put a lot of miles between you and her.