National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said Thursday that he believes the depth of House Democrats' panic can be measured this week by their decision to spend money defending Rep. Sanford Bishop (D) in his southwest Georgia district.
In a phone interview from the campaign trail after a stop in Georgia Wednesday evening, Sessions said that it's telling that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has had to spend money on "African Americans like Sanford Bishop. And when you have to retreat back to ... your hard base you're having to make tough decisions."
Bishop is the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus that is currently benefitting from ads by the DCCC. The committee has spent just more than $142,000 in Georgia's 2nd district, mostly on ads attacking Bishop's GOP challenger, state Rep. Mike Keown.
Sessions said that it's simply unusual for the DCCC to have to defend members of the CBC.
"When you're having to go support your CBC members, which you've never had to do, that should show you how deep this is," he said.
Sessions pointed out that the DCCC is scaling back ad reservations from districts that had long been considered to be on the frontline to try to save Members who had, until recently, been considered lower-tier races. He pointed to districts like Texas' 17th, where the DCCC this week cut its ad reservation total through Election Day nearly in half.
"I think it is an indication that they are seeing poll numbers and the turnout models that are happening where they are in trouble across the country," Sessions said. "I think they are going to follow their plan of hardening up at the very end where they can and we are going to come right at them."
Asked for a prediction of how many seats Republicans will pick up in November, Sessions said he's already certain Republicans will win the 39 seats necessary to take the House.
"I still say we're mid 40's," he said. "I can count them right now."
Democrats contend that the NRCC's efforts to nationalize Congressional races and tie Democratic candidates to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be unsuccessful this fall. They point out that Republicans tried that strategy in high-profile special elections earlier this cycle in places like Pennsylvania and New York and it didn't work.
Sessions said he has no qualms about sticking to the message this fall.
"I encourage [Democrats] to hold on to that thought process, to stick to Nancy Pelosi as a poster child of what is best about America and the direction we're heading," Sessions said. "The President and Nancy Pelosi are gleeful about continuing that effort of diminishing American jobs and blaming someone else. ... They are arsonists who then double as firefighters. They are trying to get in their fire truck after they've burned down these jobs and now show up and act like they are the saviors."