NBC's Ann Curry to DNC Chair: What More Can You Do to Keep Democrats in Charge?

  With less than two weeks to go before the midterm elections, NBC's Ann Curry on Wednesday's Today show, invited on DNC Chairman Tim Kaine to make his case and seemingly pleaded "What are you going to do, over the next 13 days...to convince voters to keep Democrats in charge?" Curry even questioned Kaine why Barack Obama hadn't energized his base earlier, specifically the youth vote, as she pressed: "If these young voters are so important...was it a mistake not to woo them sooner?" Curry then went on to quote former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, who pointed out the Tea Party was still maturing as a movement, as she asked the former governor of Virginia "If the Tea party is not sophisticated, then why is it so difficult for your party, to convince voters otherwise?"

The following is the full interview with Tim Kaine as it was aired on the October 20 Today show:

[7:09am]

ANN CURRY: Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Governor Kaine, good morning.

[On screen headline: "13 Days Until Midterms, Can Democrats Keep Control Of Congress?"]

TIM KAINE: Hey Ann, good to be back with you.

CURRY: Well great. Well if 59 percent of Americans are saying that this country is on the wrong track with Democrats in charge, what are you going to do, over the next 13 days that you haven't done already, to convince voters to keep Democrats in charge? 

KAINE: Well it's important for us to continue to talk to Democrats and the American public about the achievements of the administration. We are not where we want to be yet, but Ann, after a decade of losing jobs and losing family income, the American economy is growing again and for nine straight months private sector has added jobs. We see in the NBC/Wall Street journal poll, that among registered voters, Democrats now have an edge over Republicans. We still have a gap to close among likely voters, but the President's numbers are also improving and we think we, with the President out on the trail, we think we got a real good case to make here over the next two weeks.

CURRY: Well let's take a look at how the President is trying to close that gap. He's been, basically, turning to college students. We've got him campaigning in Ohio State, earlier this week. He's also campaigned at the University of Wisconsin. He's appeared at an MTV town hall, and now he's about to appear on The Daily Show, which also boasts a young audience. This has a feeling of being sort of a last ditch, last minute effort. If these young voters are so important, this midterm elections, was it a mistake not to woo them sooner?

KAINE: No, no, no. This is a, it's important, you have an easier time getting young voters once college is back in, because you have a lot of folks together. And the message to young voters is pretty simple. You turned out in record numbers in 2008 and guess what? We have done the largest expansion of the student loan program in American history without spending an additional penny. We took it away from banks, who didn't need it. We've done a health care reform that allows youngsters to stay on their family insurance policy until age 26. And we've done important credit card reform that has helped young voters. So we have their attention, they're together. And we're reaching out, not just to young voters, but all of our voters, but they are a very important constituency.

CURRY: Well let's talk about what you're really up against because, you know, this, this swell of enthusiasm around the Tea Party. Karl Rove recently said that members of the Tea Party are amazing, but as an organization it is not sophisticated. So if this is true, if the Tea party is not sophisticated, then why is it so difficult for your party, the Democratic Party to, to convince voters otherwise?

KAINE: Well I don't think - I mean we're not trying to convince voters whether or not the Tea Party is sophisticated or not. We're trying to convince them that we can win.

CURRY: But why does it-

KAINE: I'm talking...

CURRY: What, what I'm trying to ask you, though is why-

KAINE: Yeah?

CURRY: -does the Tea Party have the Democratic Party on the ropes, if in fact, this is true, that the Tea Party is not sophisticated?

KAINE: Yeah. That's, that's not the way I look at it, Ann. The, the, it's a tough climate because the economy is hard and when people are hurting it's always going to be tough. And American history has shown that. But I'm talking here from Iowa today. I've been doing events in congressional districts in Iowa where the polls have been moving in the Democratic candidate's favor and early voting results thus far, show that Democrats are doing quite well in early voting. We've seen the governor's race here in Iowa go from a double-digit race down, our candidate Governor Culver was down to a single digit race. And all over the country, whether it's Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Colorado, Washington state, we're seeing polls move in Democrats' favor. We've got a lot of work to do, I'm glad we still have two more weeks, but you want to hit Election Day on an up-cycle and we believe that we are.

CURRY: Alright. Okay DNC Chairman Tim Kaine. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.