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« Lewis Backs Marshall In N.C. Senate Runoff | Blog Home Page | Incumbents On Edge Over Volatile Electorate »

Kaine: Voters Will Reward Dems' "Heavy Lifting"

DNC chairman Tim Kaine acknowledged that his party still has a tough battle ahead. But, speaking at the National Press Club this afternoon, he made the case recent polling trends and even the elections Tuesday show voters will ultimately reward tough decisions made by Democrats thus far.

"When people are hurting, the electorate is volatile and that means that people are going to want to see change," he said. "We think we frankly have just got a much better message about who can deliver change, because we've been out there doing that while the other guys have been standing on the sidelines and throwing rocks."

Democrats, he said, will make a "plain" case to voters in November: "If you want to continue to see change, you gotta put people in who are willing to actually do some heavy lifting to bring change about."

That argument is already working, he argued, pointing to a trend favoring Democrats in the generic ballot test. He specifically mentioned an AP survey in which a plurality said they would prefer to see Democrats control Congress, saying it showed voters "would rather have people who are fighting to get the nation back than people who are just saying no to everything."

"Americans are can-do people. We can be angry, we can be mad, but we're not fundamentally people who stay mad," he said. "A policy of just no to everything and obstruction doesn't work too well with American voters. As Americans see the economy continue to improve, they're going to reward the Democrats who had been willing to do tough lifts."

He also pointed to what he called a "corrosive civil war" amongst Republicans, as seen in Kentucky last night. Republican candidates "have to be every bit as wary about" the tea party movement as Democrats are, he said.

Kaine, not surprisingly, chose to focus most on the special Congressional election in Pennsylvania's 12th district, won comfortably by Democrat Mark Critz.

"The Republican Party's failure to take a seat also shows that while conventional wisdom holds that this will be a tough year for Democrats, the final chapter on this year's elections is far from written," he said.

It was later pointed out that Critz had stated in the race that he opposed some of the administration and Democratic-led Congress' initiatives, especially health care reform. But Kaine made what he said was an important distinction.

"The Republicans really made that race ... kind of a referendum on the president, but also on whether repeal of health care reform would be a signature issue that would really drive these elections forward. In a district that was very favorable to them, which John McCain had won, that message did not carry the day," he said.

He discounted the defeat of Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Senate primary.

"The fact is this: Democratic Pennsylvania voters in that primary yesterday were voting for two candidates who had supported the president on the key issues of economic recovery, health care reform and financial reform," he said. "They will be energized behind Congressman Sestak when it comes to November, and we're going to do all that we can to help."

An RNC spokesman countered by pointing to Sestak's own message in his victory speech Tuesday, saying his victory was "a win for the people, over the establishment, over the status quo, even over Washington, D.C."