tv Newsmakers CSPAN February 13, 2011 10:00am-10:30am EST
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>> next, "newsmakers with congressman steve israel. after that, a hearing on world threats. then we will hear comments from the egyptian vice-president and president obama on the resignation of hosni mubarak. >> this week, steve israel of new york, the chair of the democratic congressional campaign committee. we have our reporters to help with the question. reid wilson, editor in chief of "the hotline," and alex isenstadt of "the politico." >> you have taken over a committee that is $19 million in debt. it is one of the smallest minorities you have had in a very long time. tell us about the state of the democratic party from a political standpoint and from the institutional standpoint when you have $90 million in
debt in your committee alone? >> thank you for reminding us. [laughter] i love uphill battles. i am a student of military history and for once i love of the battles and there are a lot they can be won. we have a chance to do this. when the 25 seats to take the house back. we had a rich environment of 61 seats of seats whose republicans voted for president obama. there are 54 seats currently held by republicans that 55% of their vote or less. quite honestly, the republicans have made my job much easier since they took the gavel. they have made commitments to the american people and flip- flop. they promise to create jobs and have not. they promise to repeal health care but to get for themselves and to away from their constituents. the state of the democratic party is sound. we have a path to get the house
back and republicans are helping us along the way. >> has to start fund-raising, are you competing with president obama's reelection campaign? >> the rnc see is also competing with a president election. there are at historic number of senate seats in play. there is no question that the fund-raising piece of that has challenges out of our control. the presidential campaign and many senate seats. but i'm very gratified by the fact in in our first month in december, we broke all records on online fund raising. we raised over $1 million online. in increments of 32, the average donation on line. you know how many $32 checks it takes to make $1 million? our base of voters throughout the country are energize,
charged up, and they are contributing. in addition to that, member dues have gone very well. with a very strong performance among our members. we're doing what is necessary in order to work around the fact that we do that high level of competition from a presidential race and from lots of senate races. >> talk about those member dues for a second. members of congress giving money to the campaign committee to go win that republican house seats. what kind of picture you making to them? it is hard to solicit members to give their own money. >> members of the democratic caucus to contribute to the dccc, or those donors who contributed $32 a head, for a pitch to the larger donors, it is the same pitch -- we are in a much better position to strengthen the middle-class, to create jobs, to help small businesses and to stand up for
middle-class and working families throughout america. so when we contras what we're doing to revoke publicans have done, it makes it easier for people to contribute. when they see that there is a path to victory, they are all that much more willing to support that these ccc. that is what has happened. to you have been traveling around the certain states. talk about some of what you have been doing. >> we started recruiting on day one. we look back at what happened and measured are losses for about three hours. and then we get down to work. this is a very aggressive time that -- tonette we have said. what is essential to that effort is the quality of our recruits. we assembled a recruiting committee and that committee is member-driven. we have blue dots, congressional black caucus members, progressives, we have new dems.
we meet every thursday morning going over all of those seats that will be in play. i have been to arizona, to illinois, our national recruiting charges came back from washington state. we have been in minnesota. we are deploying around the country to that an abundant number of competitive districts, trying to attract the best people we can. >> i have read that you like to go into a district to get a feel for them to decide the best candidate. how you get a feel for the best candidate? >> this is so interesting. i was the national recruiting chair in the past. i love visiting places, beating with all the county chairs, the political leaders, and good recruiting means you have to be part of the district. you have to show yourself to the district. you cannot recruit based on a
sterile analysis, looking at the data in washington, d.c. you have to fuel the community and understand the terrain. i have encouraged all the members of our recruiting team not to make the decisions at the dccc sea, but to go meet with the locals, watch the local news, because that gives you a feel for the dynamic of that district. that produces the best for rupert project request. we will let could announce coming up. >> after the campaign was over, a lot of people to the post mortem to figure out what happened. it may have only taken you three hours, but i assume that you did a post-mortem on the 2010 campaign. what did you do right and what did you do wrong? >> several critical lessons here, one to be honest that we lost 9 million independent voters between 2006 and 2010. these are voters who had faith in us, who gave as their vote in
2006, they did it again in 2008, when they pulled back in 2010. we need to get them back. we are a good way towards doing that. those independent voters for other republicans because republicans may two promises. but for us and we will create jobs. but for us and we will reduce debt. they said, " for us and we would change the way washington works. they are 0-3 for those independent voters. they came here and did not reduce debt. they added to the debt. they have not created any jobs. they came here to change the way washington works. the first thing they did, the first vote they cast was to repeal health care for their constituents but refused to disclose whether they are taking it for themselves. how is that changing the way the washington works? those of the issues that count with independent voters. we will hold republicans accountable those independent voters in order to bring them back. >> the message going forward is
almost entirely of contrast message. this is not what the democratic plan is but this is what republicans are doing. >> not really. it is about a contrast, in the election, but you have to offer an alternative. the republican playbook when we were in the majority had three chapters. chapter one, go on offense. chapter 2, just say no. chapter 3, don't with the finger to help. the only chapter i will still from their playbook is chapter 1, go on offense. but we will offer alternatives. we have said time and time again we will work with them and constructive alternatives as long as three criteria are met. does it create jobs? as a strength in middle-class families? as it reduced debt? we will work with them but republicans have not given a heckuva lot to work with. >> jane harman and after
retirement this week. what kind of discussing jet you had with others? >> this affects both political parties. we have done that analysis. most retirements are speculative, hypothetical, they are rumors or wishful thinking. i have been speculated, hypothetical rumor list based analyst at that you here. of all the potential rumored retirements among democrats, the vast majority of those on strongly democratic districts like jane harman. but on the republican side, many of those are in competitive districts. the republicans haven't had a lot more to be nervous about in retirements than we do. jane harman's district is a democratic district.
we take nothing for granted, and there are many three candidates who have emerged there, but that is an example of the retirement is in a democratic district. >> as you recruit the candidates and urge them not to retire, how're you pitching bajaur are you saying, the democrats got their rear ends handed to them. nancy pelosi has a 25% approval rate in my district. what do you doing to convince them that 2012 will be different? >> republicans have said -- have had such a run start, i do not have too much. it is the other way around. if people are calling on us, knocking on our door, and what is interesting is that members of congress who were defeated who are engaged. we have conference calls with them. we stood up a program for former members where we keep them informed, in caves, to solicit their ideas.
we talk about what is happening in their districts. we share information and the attendance rate of those conference calls from former members is extremely high. we do not have to do all that much convincing. >> can you give us a number? how many former members do you think will run again? >> i cannot give you a number until redistricting has really jelled. it will be a big issue right now. i can tell you that up very high percentage of former members are participating in the conference calls. i met with one just today. has this is being taped, they are engaged and interested. many of them say, i want to do this bellamy's two of my district looks like. that will begin to crystalize very soon. >> as far as recruitment's coming you can expect good announcements coming up. can you give us a good idea of the districts where you will make announcements and?
>> we will make announcements by the end of the quarter. you will be among the first to know. [laughter] >> but not today. >> talk about those former members. you say they are interested but they have to see the basic lines. is this all the folks who just lost, a large number? can he give some names? >> there are many former members who are interested in running. one of the reasons, quite honestly, they will not one to give specific names that if you are in a state where the redistricting is " rigid control by the other party, you know one advertise the two are running again. he may find yourself redistrict ded into another state. we will respect the process. redistricting, i love this, republicans went to the mountaintop and trumpeted this is the end of the democrats. we will take 60 seats.
this is cataclysmic for the democrats. when you look at the weeds, it is pretty much a wash. he will be a net gain, maybe a few for the republicans, maybe a few for us. until we go through the census data, the different states and the legislatures and the governors, they draw the lines. it will be a fluid situation. >> there have been a lot of special elections in new york in the last few years. you've been on the front line in terms of recruiting democrats. what kind of opportunity to use the new york 26, if any? >> i do not know what it is about new york and special elections. i feel like this is a groundhog day for me. it's back to new york, back to a special election. new york 26 is not a slam dunk democratic district. i am obligated to be honest. it is a potential opportunity,
the president obama the 47% there, john kerry get 43% in new york 26. so it is not necessarily a slam dunk. it is a republican district. palomino lives there. it is one that the republicans must hold. >> the rumor we have heard is that bill burton might be interested in running for that seat. have you had this conversation with bill? >> no direct conversations with bill. we are very respectful of the process. ipad conference calls with the county chairs in that area. the dccc does not make pronouncements from so far away. we make sure that we respect the collaboration. if @ two conference calls with the county chairs. we're talking to local leaders, the local political leaders. we respect the process and i assume that if bill is
interested, he is having the same conversations i have had. >> has anyone from the dccc talk to him? >> not that i know of? >> you said that it might not be so bad for the democrats. new york is an example that with an open seat in the 26, that might collapse is the legislature begins the process. other places where the democrats might do well? >> florida has 500,000 more registered democrats than republicans. and yet it has a congressional delegation of six democrats and 19 republicans. how did that happen? the republicans so overreached, peso over extended, and it was so abusive with their redistricting that now they have a problem. the only way that they could add republican seats in florida without violating redistricting standards that they just passed and without completely
overreaching would be to redistrict in to bermuda and the cayman islands, which they may do to protect some of their offshore tax havens. this presents a big challenge to them. 500,000 more democrats than republicans, and go from -- to go to 22 republicans? that is a real problem. problem is of an example and texas is another. texas picked up four seeds. republicans control everything in texas. but when you analyze that, no one knows for sure, but if there is a shred of fairness there, you will been dubbed the two republicans and two democrats. there is a shred of conformity with fairness, it is likely to be 2-2. the state-by-state, the republicans made a pronouncement he would lose dozens of seats. i think they will be eating their words at the end of this process. i don't think we will be losing dozens of seats in
redistricting. >> what are you doing that is changing the committee from the ways it used operate? >> i am not into the style, the rahm emanuel well or that chris van hollen or the steve israel on the these civil -- the dccc. i like to focus on building strategy, implementing it, making sure that it is operational, the mechanical, if been cyclical. and that is the path the winning. and then i will leave it to you guys have to the election to talk about whether the style worked or did not work always relevant and not. >> another article from the minister of yours, he worked under rahm emanuel when he headed up the dccc for the house. what did you learn from senator schumer? >> one lesson from senator
schumer and the same lesson from rahm emanuel. win. >> how you do that? >> you win it by being operational, by putting the pieces in place so collegially. both rahm and chuck schumer understood that you have to recruit. they had good recruiting mechanisms, which is why within a day after the leader as to take this job, we recruited -- we convene their first recording meeting. you cannot win by wishful thinking or licking your weapons. you win by having a plan, making it operational, making it sequoya joe, making sure all the pieces fit. -- sequential, making sure all the pieces fit. and they then have the same volume of obscenities that rahm emanuel did, and i may not have all the same attributes the chuck schumer did.
i'll be judged based on my own level of success. >> you talked about the partnership that rahm emanuel and senate issuer had. what kind of partnership you have with your counterparts? >> a good one. senator murray and i spoke shortly after we were appointed. we will speak more frequently. we are standing up for individual operations, but we had a very good conversation. i have received calls of the past several years -- days from various centers offering to help recruit in their state, to build infrastructure and operation in their states. one of the real surprises for me, and it should not been, but the pleasant surprises was the level of cooperation that the senate has provided to dccc. >> talk about outside money for a second. in 2010, republicans had a huge did manage in group spending money. will democrats have the ability to match that in 2012 regardless
of what they think about this? >> that was the elmira and ineffective. -- outlier, and that was affected. the stealth outcry -- stealth outside groups came in with their secret money -- did i mention secret money -- and they change the dynamic by advertising, refusing to put their names on in a cowardly way, hiding behind the ropes of the supreme court justices. we cannot let that happen again. i hope that our allies are interested and will consider developing their own responses to what happened in the citizens united. but that is out of my control. what is within my control is ensuring that these groups are held accountable.
insuring that middle class families know who is paying for these sets, so we will be pursuing all of the tools and power tool box to make sure that that kind of accountability and transparency exists. we have lots of tools in our toolbox that we're looking at. >> to disclose act may not be going to the house this year, but one of the things you could do something like your predecessor had done, paring down -- tearing down walls between the coordinated in the expenditure side of the dccc. is that legislation the chief who worked with to pass? >> we have not given a second thought. not all. not because it is a good or bad idea but because we have now given to the thought. i would prefer transparency and accountability. it does not matter what side of the aisle you are on. you have a right to know whether a corporation with a vested interest in dismantling
the epa because they do not like the fact that the epa is ensuring clean drinking water standards is trying to buy an election by defeating someone who supports the epa budget. i for transparency and accountability, and i believe that the corporation should be accountable to their own shareholders and their run consumers. >> would you insist that the democratic allies have the same level? >> everyone should play by the same role. >> we have time for three more questions. >> how does it change your timetable to recruit? >> in some cases, you have a chicken in a issue wary of someone interested in running but they want to see with the district looks like. i understand that. that is perfectly natural. human nature to know where you are running if you run. many of our progress know that
they want to run. so they have to do certain things operationally. they need to contact their prospective donors and doing their local politics, building their message, doing their mobilization, and then be in a good position one fell lines are drawn. >> once the lines are drawn. is not chicken array, you need to do both. >> good luck to campaign finance for a second. you know like those rules. it is very unlikely that those rules will change this year. you think this gives -- should democratic rules follow rules -- democratic groups follow rules that are not written? >> i cannot tell groups what to do, what rules to play by, is what ever they believe is in their best interest. there is no communication between me and those groups. my own personal position is that
you ought to play by the the rules. if the republicans in the supreme court are defining the rules and a certain way, the people have to make the decision whether they are but a play by those rules. >> a couple of cases making their way to the courts right now. there's a new challenge to the voters right at. with the supreme court the way it is, are you concerned that those cases will teardown this is exist which a margin you only worry about what is in your control and you do not spend time worrying what is out of your control. the supreme court is out of my control. i am focused on message, money, mobilization. i will stay focused on those things. >> what you trying to win some of those seats back the margin in the citizens united case affected many of those races. any of our members in new york were among those that had
double-digit leads 10 days out from election day. and these groups that had never set foot in new york put in hundreds of thousands of dollars in your to change the dynamic. we are working very hard in new york. there is one district that john kerry carried along with barack obama. there are five districts in pennsylvania, three in the suburbs of philadelphia, and two in the more western parts of the state. we are focused on those 14 states to begin with, one in the york, five in pennsylvania, and others elsewhere, and then we graduate from there. >> when president obama is sharing the ballot with a number of your candidates in 2012, would you see that as a positive or will that be a negative? >> is positive. a rising tide lifts all boats. >> are you doing anything
different in your predecessor? >> had a very defined role under my predecessor. i was the recruiting chair. my style is to focus intensely on the mission at hand. i did not have enough exposure to the things that my predecessor was doing. i read the book after i was made the dccc chair, when rahm emanuel was the chair in the to the house bank. i found it instructive. does try to set an aggressive tone. m very plain -- pleased with headlines like new-found assertiveness. the "new york times" had an editorial recently where they reiterated a script for the dccc radio ads, democrats emerging from a defensive crouch. that type of aggressiveness without the obscenities is the
tone i am trying to set. >> representative steve israel of new york, winning back seats for the house. thank you. we're back with our reporters, reid wilson and alex isenstadt. reid, let me begin with you with what you heard for redistricting. >> he made a really great. bank. democrats were bothered by the narrative early in the rig district cycle. republicans get to say all these these seats are coming to states that we won last time, where we control the governor's mansion and a legislature. but it will not be that bad for democrats. in states like arizona and texas and florida, republicans have gone as far as they can. they won all the possible swing seats and if they want to start shoring up their incumbents, they have to put democratic voters in more democratic -- in other districts. that means you will see a lot more competitive districts and
subdistricts they get more democratic. it will not necessarily be that bad. in texas specifically, there are four new seats go in there. according to the voters right at, a couple will have to be hispanic majority seats. democrats should be the welfare burden those. if republicans want to stay critics say more incumbents, it will cost them those districts. i think it will become a wash. >> what that his analysis in florida? what if the republicans cannot gain that many more seats? >> this year they passed a fair election plan that the governor is trying to get around. it would prohibit those who draw the lines from considering partisan affiliation when they draw the new districts, and prevent those people from considering where an incumbent lawmakers actually lives. you can see a