Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

DCCC Chief: Syria Not Big Issue in 2014 Elections

Israel is the DCCC chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Democratic campaign chief told reporters Tuesday that while Capitol Hill is consumed with debate on Syria, the issue will not affect the 2014 midterms.

“2014 is not going to be a referendum on Syria,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast. Instead, he added, the 2014 midterms will be about “solutions,” helping the middle class, extremism and partisanship.

Israel declined to detail the Syria issue in his role as DCCC chairman, reiterating the committee does not endorse policy positions. Instead, he argued that many House Republicans who oppose authorization for intervention in Syria would support the same policy if Mitt Romney were president and proposed it instead of President Barack Obama.

“The level of hypocrisy is what amazes me,” he said.

Israel stated that his personal position — not that of the DCCC — is generally supportive of military intervention, but he is hopeful about reports that the Russian government proposed taking control of Syria’s chemical weapons.
“Now we have to see if that path is credible,” he said.

As for his own incumbents, he stressed that his vulnerable House Democrats must be “communicating” with their constituents on Syria. Israel added that Democrats should not be taking into consideration whether their vote “helps or hurts the president.”

As for the task ahead of him as DCCC chairman, Israel remained reluctant to say the House is in play.

“On the question of: Can we win the House? …” he said. “It’s just way too early to say.”

“It is speculative. It is hypothetical. It is crystal ball stuff,” Israel said of House race prognosticators. “My job is not to prophesize. It’s to build a foundation that will withstand whatever winds exist or exploit whatever winds exist in the fall of 2014.”

Throughout the 2014 cycle, Israel has been careful to proclaim Democrats could take control of the House. Last cycle, the chairman’s rhetoric on his party’s chances of winning the House was much more bullish.

Israel also added that he commissioned a massive polling project by Democratic pollster Geoff Garin of Hart Research. Israel described the data as encouraging, adding that swing voters found the Republican brand “toxic” in those districts.

Still, Israel conceded that voters in those districts “still need to be convinced” they ought to fire Republican incumbents.

  • sandbun

    Isn’t it a bit much to complain about the Republicans who he assumes with no evidence would vote differently if Romney was President, while at the same time Democrats whipping for votes are specifically mentioning how much voting against the resolution will hurt Obama politically?

  • Andrew John

    If the vote were held today, Obama would lose in both the Senate & the House. Syria will one issue among many. It will be interesting to see what the administration does if/when the lifeline that Putin threw them goes for naught. Is Obama dumb enough to put Democrats up for re-election in 2014 on record as voting for intervention (especially when there is no clear plan/objective after his “limited strike”)? Amateur hour continues.

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