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Guests: DNC Chairman Tim Kaine & Gen. Hugh Shelton

By This Week, This Week - October 24, 2010

AMANPOUR: Hello again, everyone. It's nine days until the election. Early voting is under way in more than half the states and there's talk of waves and cultural shifts, but the fact is, many House and Senate races are simply too close to call. We're joined now by the head of the Democratic National Committee, Tim Kaine. Welcome to "This Week."

KAINE: Christiane, good to be back.

AMANPOUR: Do you think you will keep the House?

KAINE: I do. I do. I think it's going to be close, and as you point, these races are very close. But from this point forward, it's all about turnout and ground game, and we're seeing good early voting trends and we -- we've got work to do, but we think we can do it.

AMANPOUR: Are you saying that all the polling, the predictions are wrong? Because everywhere you look, it says that you're not going to keep the House.

KAINE: But the polling is moving. We really haven't seen since Labor Day polls moving against us. Almost all the polls have been moving for us. Now, we still have some work to do, but what Democrats tend to specialize in is the ground game, the turnout. The more people turn out, the better we do, and we are seeing strong trends at the presidential rallies and early voting.

AMANPOUR: Do you think if the House remains Democratic, Nancy Pelosi will remain speaker?

KAINE: Yes, I do. I do.

AMANPOUR: No question?

KAINE: I -- she's done a marvelous job in a town where it's hard to do heavy lifts, as you know, in doing heavy lifting in the House to work with the president, and I think she'll stay speaker.

AMANPOUR: What about the Senate? That seems to be more likely to stay Democratic, but is it? Do you think it will be?

KAINE: We're not taking a single race for granted, so let me start there, but I think, you know, four or five months ago, the Republicans thought they had a great chance at taking both houses. For a variety of reasons, the Senate has gotten much more difficult for them. And again, we're seeing this week strong moves in polling for our Senate candidates in California, in Washington. Pennsylvania has gone, Joe Sestak from behind to even. So we feel like we've got a very good ground game, but a lot more work to do. We're not taking it for granted.

AMANPOUR: But it's incredible that you are so behind in so many of these race, for instance in the House. Because the president and the Democratic administration talks about the accomplishments and legislation has been passed, but it seems that the selling of it, if you like, has really fallen behind. In fact, President Obama said something (ph) similar this week during a speech. Let's just listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: One of the challenges we had two years ago was we had to move so fast, we were in such emergency mode, that it was very difficult for us to spend a lot of time doing victory laps and advertising exactly what we were doing. I take some responsibility for that. I mean, our attitude was, we just had to get the policy right, and we didn't always think about making sure we were advertising properly what was going on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So why didn't you -- I mean, you are a seasoned pol. Why didn't the Democratic National Committee, the group...

KAINE: Right.

AMANPOUR: ... make sure to get the message out if it was so powerful?

KAINE: Now, Christiane, we have to do better as well. Now, I'm on TV all the time talking about the president's accomplishments, and I'm happy to say, as I campaign around the country, most Democrats are proud of their president, proud of their party, proud of the accomplishments.

AMANPOUR: But what could the party have done better so that the narrative could still be controlled?

KAINE: Well, we're going to have to figure out a way to spend more time -- as the president said, we plead guilty to focusing on substance. You know, we were in an economic freefall with two wars that were open-ended blank checks, and we have taken a shrinking economy -- it's now a growing economy -- nine months of private-sector job growth. We've got a lot to do. Finding that right balance between focusing on the substance and the explanation of the work is something that we wrestle with. The good news is that if you have to err on the side, I'm glad that we're focusing on the substance, because as you know in Washington, it's often pretty hard.

AMANPOUR: I can understand what you're saying, and obviously the substance is what you want to be measured by. But you also want to win elections.

KAINE: Right, right.

AMANPOUR: President Clinton -- former President Clinton has been out on the stump across the country.

KAINE: Doing a great job.

AMANPOUR: He has spoken to one of your predecessors, Terry McAuliffe, who he was with, and basically has said that he's baffled, he's mystified why the message hasn't gotten out better, why they haven't told the story in a better way of the economy, and why are Democrats, quote-unquote, "allowing themselves to be used as human pinatas."

KAINE: Well, you know, again, I don't see Democrats on the trail, many who are being "human pinatas." I see them out campaigning vigorously on accomplishments. Look, we saved the auto industry...

AMANPOUR: But you are being battered around.

KAINE: The other side is always going to do that. We saved the auto industry. We saved the financial sector. We passed a bill enabling women to get equal pay for equal work, and done historic health care reform, among many other bills.

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