13 Sep 2008

Fear Sweeps Capitol Hill Democrats

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Financial Times:

Democratic jitters about the US presidential race have spread to Capitol Hill, where some members of Congress are worried that Barack Obama’s faltering campaign could hurt their chances of re-election.

Party leaders have been hoping to strengthen Democratic control of the House and Senate in November, but John McCain’s jump in the polls has stoked fears of a Republican resurgence.

A Democratic fundraiser for Congressional candidates said some planned to distance themselves from Mr Obama and not attack Mr McCain.

“If people are voting for McCain it could help Republicans all the way down the ticket, even in a year when the Democrats should be sweeping all before us,” said the fundraiser, a former Hillary Clinton supporter.

“There is a growing sense of doom among Democrats I have spoken to . . . People are going crazy, telling the campaign ‘you’ve got to do something’.”

Concern was greatest among first-term representatives who won seats in traditionally Republican districts in the landslide of 2006. “Several of them face a real fight to hold on to those seats,” the fundraiser said.

Tony Podesta, a senior Democratic lobbyist, said members of Congress were “a little nervous” after Mr McCain shook up the race with his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate and intensified attacks on Mr Obama.

“Republicans have been on the offensive for the past two weeks . . . You don’t win elections on the defensive.”

The campaign manager for a first-term Democratic congressman from a blue-collar district in the north-east rejected suggestions that Mr Obama had become a liability. He said his candidate would reach out to Republicans and avoid attacks on Mr McCain.

There is this rumbling in the ground, cracks can be seen on the surface of the hillside, is it possible? Can democrats who nominated the most leftwing member of the Senate be facing yet another massive public rejection and Republican landslide?

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