- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tim Kaine said Wednesday Democrats face challenges in the mid-term elections, but he predicted the party “will hold on to majorities in both houses” — thanks in part to Republican infighting.

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, speaking to reporters at a Christian Science Monitor luncheon on Wednesday, announced a $50 million outreach and education initiative to help candidates across the countrybut the former governor of Virginia, said Democrats were also expecting a boost from the divisive primary battles in the GOP.

“We don’t have a civil war going on in the Democratic Party,” he said. “We know who our leader is.”

Mr. Kaine said the Republican Party is suffering from an identity crisis, citing the bruising GOP gubernatorial primary in Texas and the Florida Senate battle.

Mr. Kaine said Republican Gov. Charlie Crist’s potential run for the U.S. Senate as an independent — an official confirmation of Mr. Crist’s plan is now expected Thursday — can only help the Democratic candidate, Kendrick Meek.

“In places like Florida and Texas, our chances are being improved by the corrosiveness on the other side.”

“Mr. Kaine said losses in last year’s governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia, followed by the surprising Republican victory in the contest for the late Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat, had served as an early “wake-up call” for Democrats.

He said Democrats will come together after the primaries. “Not that we agree on everything, but we are usually at least singing in harmony, if not the same note.”

“Absolutely, that was a ghost-of-Christmas-future experience for us,” he said. “Painful as it was, it’s better to have that in January than in November.”

He said Democrats are confident that their new outreach program, improving poll numbers and the early benefits from the landmark health care law will limit the electoral losses the party in the White House typically sees in the midterm congressional elections.

Speaking to reporters at a luncheon sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Kaine wouldn’t predict specific numbers of wins and losses this fall, but he said, “We’re going to hold on to both” the House and Senate. Independent forecasters say a Republican takeover of Congress is at least an outside possibility this year, given the depths of anti-incumbent feeling seen in recent polls.

“We think we can do an awful lot better than the historic norm — and certainly better than what’s been predicted by some of the doom-and-gloom prognosticators,” he said.

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, responding to his counterpart’s remarks, said Mr. Kaine’s new strategy “smacks of desperation as it has become increasingly clear Democrats have lost the independents who will be the deciding voice this fall. Even worse, as public approval of ObamaCare continues to drop, its obvious that Democrats have given up any hope of getting them back.”

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