Politics

Clinton Promises to Help Democrats Win Back the House

Explains her 50-state strategy during caucus meeting on Capitol Hill

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, center, arrives with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, left, at the Capitol for a meeting with House Democrats. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Hillary Clinton in a private meeting with House Democrats Wednesday promised to help the party win down-ballot races in November by running a 50-state campaign.   

Washington Rep. Jim McDermott said Clinton told the Democratic caucus that she understands the significance of having control of the House and that she wants to help them win it back. According to McDermott, Clinton said, "I want the House so I’m going to do everything I can to help you."   

That message resonated with Democrats, who need to win 30 seats to reclaim the House majority.  

"She said it’s not just about her," New York Rep. Gregory W. Meeks recalled. "It’s about all of us and about all of us working together."   

"To hear that is not only refreshing but energizing," said New York Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the House Democratic policy and communications committee.   

The former secretary of State told lawmakers that her 50-state strategy will help Democrats regain control of the House and the Senate, members said.  

“She’s going to go everywhere," Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California said. "She’s going to have people everywhere. She did acknowledge that there will be battleground states which she probably will visit more and have more staff but she made it clear it’s a 50-state strategy.”  

Clinton recognizes some states are more important than others, New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel said, noting, "She named Ohio, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina."  

Members said Clinton didn't specifically address how she and her Democratic primary opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, plan to bring their supporters together and unify the party, but rather, she offered her experience in 2008 as a model of success. After losing a tight primary contest to Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton campaigned heavily for her former nemesis as she tried to persuade people who voted for her in the primaries to back Obama in the general election.   

"Many of her supporters were urging her to continue to fight against President Obama, and she just realized that she had to put her party and country above her — above personality," Israel said. "And she had to work very hard to convince her supporters to vote for, to support President Obama."  

Clinton spent slightly more time addressing her likely general election opponent, New York real estate mogul Donald Trump, than her primary challenger.  

"She alluded to his vilification of so many groups," Israel said. "But she did say it's not enough for us to be criticizing what Donald Trump says. We have to have a plan. And we have to tell the American people what we're fighting for."  

At one point during the gathering, Becerra, who is rumored to be on Clinton's list of potential running mates, offered her a glass of water.  

[ Op-Ed: How Clinton Can Win With a Latino VP ]  

Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley said he quipped, "Boy, are you working it."   

Clinton took a sip from the glass but didn't address the vice presidential speculation, Israel said. "That's as close to any vice presidential conversation as there was, but she said nothing."  

 

Contact McPherson at  lindseymcpherson@rollcall.com  and follow her on Twitter  @lindsemcpherson .

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