Van Hollen: Pelosi Divide Shows Party’s Ideological Diversity

Posted October 10, 2010 at 9:05am

Updated: 12:04 p.m.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) on Sunday framed the distance between some Democratic Members and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) on the campaign trail as an example of the party’s diversity.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we have an ideologically diverse Caucus,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We have a whole range of different political views.”

A number of House Democrats have touted their opposition to elements of Pelosi’s and President Barack Obama’s agendas in campaign ads. Van Hollen sought to cast the differences not as a divide, but as a positive spirit of independence within the party.

“What they’re doing is talking about their independence on certain issues,” he said. “There are issues where they stood with the Speaker and the president, and there are issues where they opposed the Speaker and the president. That’s their job.”

Van Hollen added, “There are also lots of cases where they are contrasting themselves very clearly to the Republicans and special interests,” and he criticized what he called the “ideological purity test” of the Republican Party. “It’s being moved even farther to the right by the tea party candidates,” he said.

“When Mike Castle, a moderate centrist in Delaware, loses, it sends a message that there is no room for moderates, no room for pragmatists in the Republican Party,” Van Hollen said about Rep. Castle’s loss last month in the GOP primary for the Senate race in Delaware.

“We have a big tent, and we’re problem solvers, and that is, I think, what voters are looking for,” he said.

In response to Van Hollen’s appearance, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay wrote: “Chris Van Hollen knows full well that his party doesn’t have an ideologically diverse caucus, but rather a collection of candidates who are trying anything they can to save their political careers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that vulnerable Democrats are unsuccessfully attempting to distance themselves from their party’s job-killing agenda, every facet of which has been rejected by the American people.”

National Republican Congressional Committee Vice Chairman Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) said he believes “there’s a great chance” Republicans will win control of the House in the midterm elections Nov. 2, even though he said it will be a “tough climb” to win the 39 seats necessary for a takeover. He appeared separately on “State of the Union.”

When asked about possible GOP outreach to persuade Democratic Members to switch parties, McCarthy said, “I’ve always heard those rumors, but I don’t see that being the case.

“It’s a little more difficult when you look at the Democratic makeup of Congress today,” he added. “It’s much more liberal than it’s ever been. Every single one there has voted for Nancy Pelosi. They’ve been in power for four years. I don’t think the American public is looking to more Members of Congress to stay in Congress. They’re looking for people across the country to actually change Washington.”

He then defended his own incumbency as a short one of two terms. He also pointed to his criticism of both parties when he first ran for office.