Election 2005: Let the Spin Begin!
The Democrats' congressional campaign chiefs -- Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel -- were all smiles at a noon event today in Washington celebrating the party's successes in last night's off-year elections.
Both men sought to paint the results -- ranging from gubernatorial victories in New Jersey and Virginia to the defeat of the St. Paul, Minn., mayor -- as a repudiation of President George W. Bush and his administration's policies.
"If you are a moderate Republican, you are saying to yourself, 'I am not going to follow George W. Bush off the cliff,'" said Schumer, the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Emanuel took a page from Bush's own linguistic playbook to describe the reaction of Republican elected officials after seeing last night's results; "Those folks are running away from President Bush like a scalded dog," said the Illinois Congressman.
Brian Jones, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, rejected the idea that yesterday's elections said anything about Bush or Republican prospects in next year's midterm elections. He called such prognostication "a waste of time."
But Schumer and Emanuel pledged that last night's results would embolden them to grow their number of targeted congressional races as they seek to take back the Senate and House in 2006. Schumer said that his committee is expanding beyond its initial targeting of Republican incumbents, mentioning Virginia as a possible growth opportunity (although that seems like a longshot given the political strength of GOP Sen. George Allen).
Emanuel boasted that two individuals he was recruiting to run for Congress called him -- one at 1 a.m. this morning and another at a bit more reasonable hour -- to tell him that after watching Democratic victories last night, they were definitely going to run.
Take such boasts with a grain of salt; they are the typical day-after reactions of the winning party in any election that draws national attention. But it is worth noting that both Emanuel and Schumer seem more than willing to nationalize the 2006 election in hopes of reaping gains similar to those Republicans enjoyed in 1994. "The country knows this is a national election," asserted Emanuel.
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