An interview with Ed Rendell over at Real Clear Politics looks at the Sestak-Specter race, and at the prospects for Democrats. Ed’s one of the more savvy politicians out there, so it’s worth reading:
RCP: You mention that the turnout this fall is going to be key. The White House and the DNC have been talking about their efforts toward that end in the past few days. What advice would you give as a former party chair yourself to try and keep up that surge vote.
RENDELL: I think we’ve got to be aggressive with our message. Democrats have really sat by silently cowering behind our shower curtains and let the tea partiers be the only voice that America has heard. We haven’t done a good job selling the stimulus, which has been a big success. Without the stimulus, the recovery wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is today. It’s not perfect, but it’s been a big success and we let the Republicans win, that the stimulus was a bunch of social welfare programs that nobody cared about. It’s ludicrous. The health care reform bills – very few Americans know all the good stuff about it. Again, we haven’t been heard.
We’ve been out-smarted, we’ve been outshouted. All those things. I think it’s time for rank and file Democrats from governors to senators to Congressmen to local elected officials and committee people to start talking about all the good the president’s done and all the good that Congress has done. Right now, Americans have gotten basically one side of the story. I don’t fault the tea parties, I don’t blame the conservative media. I blame us for not being aggressive in supporting the president and telling people what we’ve done. If you look at the president’s first 16 months and think of what he’s gotten passed into law – and we’ve got financial reform – it’s pretty incredible.
RCP: So to run as the party of results as Governor Kaine –
RENDELL: The party of results, the party of positive change, the party that is trying to create opportunities for the American people. The party that protects the American people. Credit card reform – a big deal! In ordinary years that would be a big deal. I don’t think we’ve gotten one merit badge for it.
RCP: In this polarized climate though, it seems as if it’s gotten harder and harder to move the needle. The president’s numbers have been holding where they are, there hasn’t been much of a bounce from health care. Why do you think the numbers are so hard to move, and can that change?
RENDELL: I think it’s hard is because what’s happened is, the Republicans, the conservative factions won the spin battle on stimulus, won the spin battle on health reform. And once you lose the spin battle, it’s hard to climb up the mountain and take it back. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. It’s the reason that I go – I’ve been going around the country talking to state party dinners to try and give a message, let’s roll up our sleeves and be proud of what we’ve accomplished, be proud of the fact that we take care of people, be proud of the fact that we’ve created opportunities. Be proud of it. Don’t shirk from it. It’s who we are, it’s what we believe, and that’s the message we ought to be getting out there.
Of course our base is dispirited, although I think a little less than it was in January. But of course it’s dispirited because we haven’t communicated with them well enough to get them fired up about what the president and what the Congress has accomplished.