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Kaine: GOP ‘civil war’ ace in hole

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Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said Democrats will do better than expected in this year's midterm elections because the Republican Party is being torn apart by an internal "civil war" with conservative activists.

"There is a civil war that's corrosive on the Republican side that is going to enable us to do a lot better than many folks think," he said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Mr. Kaine, whose term as Virginia governor ends this week, rattled off a string of setbacks Republicans suffered because of the infighting:

• Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania last year switched from Republican to Democrat to escape a 2010 conservative primary challenge — a move that gave Senate Democrats a 60-vote supermajority.

• Republican Dede Scozzafava dropped her bid for a House seat in a conservative-leaning New York district because of opposition from a Conservative Party candidate, which handed the Democrats a victory.

• Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer resigned last week, blaming conservative activists who he said "turned their guns on fellow Republicans instead of" Democrats.

"Republicans have demonstrated that they're not ready to lead," Mr. Kaine said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Despite voters' anti-incumbent mood and a midterm election cycle that historically hurts the party in power, Mr. Kaine said Democrats this year also benefit from mounting Republican retirements and Mr. Obama's success in stopping the economic free fall, though a full-fledged recovery remained elusive.

Christina Romer, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said she didn't know if the high unemployment numbers would turn around by the fall elections, which would go a long way in lifting voters' spirits and helping Democrats at the polls.

But she said boosting job creation will continue to be a top priority for Mr. Obama, and she endorsed House Democrats' plan to spend $75 billion more on a second economic stimulus package that includes infrastructure projects and aid to states.

"The sense that we need to do more is overwhelming," Mrs. Romer said on ABC's "This Week."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele reversed his prediction from last week by saying Republicans would "absolutely" win back a majority in Congress this year because the party has a stable of "principled candidates" and they are aided by the electorate's dissatisfaction with Mr. Obama and the Democrat-led Congress.

"The mood of the country right now is sour. People are angry, they are frustrated, they're scared," said Mr. Steele, who appeared with Mr. Kaine on NBC's "Meet the Press."

He said voters are hungry for an alternative to Democrats' massive spending on a $787 billion stimulus, record-breaking budget deficits and government debt, and persistent high unemployment.

"This administration has put some things on the table that have turned America off," Mr. Steele said. "The question isn't whether or not the Republicans take the House back, it's whether or not the Democrats can keep it, and right now, they can't."

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