Van Hollen: Obama Campaign Needs "Second Wave"
By Jonathan Weisman
DENVER -- Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) acknowledged today that John McCain's "low road" attacks on Barack Obama had taken a toll on the presumptive Democratic nominee's popularity, and he encouraged the senator from Illinois to flesh out what a campaign of "hope" means to ordinary voters.
Obama's personal story -- raised by a single mother, lifted by an education financed by scholarships -- would help seal the Democrat's bond with working-class white voters, he predicted. But, Van Hollen said, Obama "has to take the great hopes that are surrounding his campaign and translate that a little bit more into policy."
Obama's economic plans, including an extensive rewriting of the tax code to benefit middle class workers and a second stimulus package, are plenty detailed, Van Hollen said. But those details have not "filtered down" to ordinary voters. Nor have his intentions on health care or his plans to keep U.S. corporations from sending jobs overseas.
But Van Hollen expressed confidence that the battering Obama has taken over the past month has not changed an overall political environment conducive to Democratic victory.
Democratic leaders in Congress will try to help this September. They are conferring with Obama aides to compile a second economic stimulus plan that mirrors Obama's, with temporary assistance to states burdened by rising Medicaid costs, funding for infrastructure improvement and rebates to offset home heating costs this winter.
Democratic leaders will also push a broad energy package that includes a mandate on electricity generation from renewable energy sources, spending on alternative energy research and development, higher royalties for energy exploration on public land and some increase in drilling on the outer continental shelf.
Van Hollen hopes that robs Republicans of the one issue they have gotten political traction on: drilling.
He acknowledged getting that package signed into law will be difficult.
"What's important is to show the American people that we are serious, that we are considering all the ideas that are out there," Van Hollen said.
Web Politics Editor
August 25, 2008; 3:27 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Battlegrounds , Conventions , Economy
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