From CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh
Washington (CNN) – A top House Republican boasted Thursday that Republicans are already positioned to take control of the House, and argued the Democrats’ political position will only worsen as Election Day approaches.
California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the top recruiter of GOP candidates and chief Republican Whip in the House, told reporters on a conference there are “more than enough seats” to win, and added, “I think the map is getting bigger by the day.”
McCarthy, who has traveled to more than 50 districts so far during the August recess, said the economy and the President’s poll numbers are dragging down Democrats’ chances of keeping their majority. On President Obama, the GOP leader predicted, “I think his approval rating will be even lower” by November and said the overall size of the political playing field will expand as a result.
McCarthy said over 80 House seats are now in play, noting that is more than twice the number Republicans need to take the majority. Ticking through many of the competitive races across the country, McCarthy predicted even more seats currently leaning Democratic –like Rep David Wu’s in Oregon and Rep Carolyn McCarthy’s in New York – will begin shifting toward the Republican column.
McCarthy maintained there is a “panic mode inside the Democratic party from the Democrats themselves” and said party leaders would soon have to make tough choices about which candidates deserved resources and who would be cut off.
He pointed to Florida Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd, who narrowly held off a primary challenger on Tuesday, as someone who is “pretty much in essence gone.” The California Republican also said that GOP fundraising is on the up tick – closing what was a 6-1 money gap between Democrats and Republicans to closer to 2 -1.
Another top House Republican, GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Pennsylvania, touted the more than 500 events he said Republicans have held so far over the recess in a call with reporters Thursday. He and other Republicans point out that the intensity of voters is driven by economic anxiety.
“Everywhere I go its about jobs and spending, it’s about the fact that economic policies of this administration have failed and the American people are looking for a new approach that will bring certainty,” Pence said.
Democrats dismissed GOP assessments about the midterms, arguing it was just a case of Republicans prematurely “measuring the drapes” before Election Day.
Ryan Rudominer, spokesman for the House Democratic campaign arm, shot back, “In Kevin McCarthy-land every seat in Congress is in play.” He said that some of the so-called “Young Gun” candidates who were hand picked by McCarthy and other GOP leaders are not as strong as they are billed to be. One example is David Rivera, the Republican candidate who just won his primary for an open seat in South Florida.
Rivera has denied allegations made by his political opponents about domestic violence – an allegation Rivera says stems from a case of mistaken identity – and he has had to answer questions about his involvement in a traffic incident with postal truck carrying campaign literature in 2002.
“With all the bluster and all the promises the NRCC has made, the bottom line is that they now face some tough decisions about which of their seriously flawed candidates with anemic fundraising have disqualified themselves as viable candidates and have to be abandoned,” Rudominer said.
On Friday, Democratic Campaign Chairman Chris Van Hollen will lay out the Democratic fall plan of attack at a press conference, including a major grassroots push planned for this Saturday. House Democrats are shooting for their supporters knock on over 200,000 doors nationwide.
While Republicans repeat the mantra that the ailing economy will drive voters to make the midterms a “change” election, they remain vague about any detailed proposals they will unveil this fall to turn the jobs picture around.
McCarthy, who has been heading up an online listening project for Republicans to draft their policy agenda, will only say that will include a “fundamental government reform package” and will come out sometime next month. Both McCarthy and Pence pointed to the economic speech by House Republican Leader John Boehner on Tuesday as an indication of what types of policies they will espouse in the final weeks before the election. But beyond calling for the resignations of top Obama economic advisors, Boehner’s speech gave little in the way of specific proposals.