CAMBRIDGE, Md. — House Democrats rolled out of the Eastern Shore on Friday emphasizing unity and a message focused on the middle class that they are increasingly optimistic will return them to the majority in November.
While the three-day gathering was attended by about 100 of the Caucus’ 190 Members, lawmakers in attendance maintained there was a broad consensus behind the message “Reigniting the American Dream.” Just like the “Six for ’06” campaign that thrust Democrats into the majority in 2006, this year’s messaging strategy offers something for Democrats of every ideological stripe, Members said.
“How we phrase it and what we emphasize will of course be different,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas), a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition. “But we’ll all be talking about the middle class, about helping small businesses.”
The upbeat mood that Members described inside the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay resort was a far cry from the atmosphere a year ago, when Democrats decamped to the same locale to lick their wounds after bruising 2010 elections. After a year in the minority, Democrats said they have had the time to reflect on the best message going into this election year and will be more aggressive in promoting it marching into November.
“We embarked on a long process in 2011 to think through the questions of who we are and what we’re for,” Rep. Robert Andrews (N.J.) said. “We know who we are, but in this age of communication we need to succinctly say that. We’re really spending a lot of time on that, and that is really coming to fruition.”
Members were more bullish about their chances of regaining the majority this year and said having President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket will help, even though the central theme of his campaign is likely to be an attack on a do-nothing Congress. The institution’s public approval ratings have reached a historic low, and Democrats are betting that Republicans will receive the blame.
“What’s important is the danger to the American people of the continuation of a Republican do-nothing Congress,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said during a leadership news conference at the Eagle’s Nest, a restaurant on the grounds of the resort that doubled as a media filing center. “I think it’s not only OK for the president to run against a do-nothing [Congress], I encourage it.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.