CBS’s Rodriguez: Democrats ‘Stand to Lose a Lot in the Fall’

Maggie Rodriguez and Tim Kaine, CBS Speaking to Virginia Governor Democratic Party Chairman Tim Kaine on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez pointed out a potential dire situation for Democrats in the 2010 midterm election: “Your party stands to lose a lot in the fall. Its 60 vote majority in the Senate, dozens of seats in the House, as well as Governor seats across the country.”

An on-screen headline posed the question: “Democrats in Trouble?” Rodriguez summed up the circumstances under which Democrats could do well in the fall: “...two things have to happen. One, the economy has to improve, and, two, health care has to not only pass, but show that it’s working.” She assumed that health care passing would be a good thing for Democrats and failed to ask Kaine about the lack of openness in the legislative process.

Rodriguez asked for Kaine’s assessment of the situation. Unsurprisingly, the DNC chair was optimistic about his party’s chances: “I think both are going to happen....I think the passage of historic health care and continued improvement of the economy is going to actually surprise some people in November in terms of how Democrats do.”

After Kaine outlined that rosy hypothetical situation, Rodriguez challenged him: “You have 11 months to accomplish two pretty ambitious goals. If it doesn’t happen, Governor, should the Gov – should the President take responsibility for this?” Kaine suddenly didn’t feel like making anymore predictions: “I’m not going go into the hypotheticals because like you say, we’ve got a 11 months where-” Rodriguez pressed him: “Well, but it hasn’t happened yet....So you have to consider that it may not happen.”

Kaine claimed: “I think it has happened on the economy....job loss numbers have been dramatically reduced. And we’re seeing a lot of positive signs in the manufacturing sector, returns of consumer confidence....we are going to get health care done, there’s immediate benefits in the health care bill for all Americans.”

Later, Kaine went so far as to suggest that 2010 would be a good year for Democrats: “...while two Democratic senators are going to retire, six Republicans are retiring. Ten Democratic House members are retiring, but 14 Republicans. Two Democratic governors, but four Republicans. The retirements are really on the other side.” He conveniently left out Illinois Senator Roland Burris and Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman, both place holders for the respective seats of President Obama and Vice President Biden, who will not be running for reelection.

Kaine concluded the Republicans were the ones really in trouble: “And no surprise, there’s a huge corrosive civil war within the Republican Party that we see playing out all over the country that I think is going to continue to be a factor that will work in our favor in 2010.” Rodriguez simply replied: “We shall see.”   

Here is a full transcript of the segment:
7:14AM

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: On Wednesday, two senior Senate Democrats announced that they will retire after this year as well as a prominent western governor. So is this a bad sign for the Democrats? Let’s ask Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Good morning, Governor Kaine.

TIM KAINE: Good morning, Maggie. Good to be with you.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Democrats in Trouble? DNC Chair on Possible Lost Seats]

RODRIGUEZ: Good to be with you as well. Your party stands to lose a lot in the fall. Its 60 vote majority in the Senate, dozens of seats in the House, as well as Governor seats across the country. And the consensus seems to be that to stop that from happening, two things have to happen. One, the economy has to improve, and, two, health care has to not only pass, but show that it’s working. Do you agree with that and do you think that can happen?

KAINE: I do agree with you, Maggie, and I think both are going to happen. I think the President is about to achieve a victory with the passage of a comprehensive health reform bill that has alluded every Democratic president since Harry Truman and I think that will create a real tail wind for the President and the party when that happens, we expect, in the next six weeks or so.

And then second, you’re right, the economy does have to improve, but what we’ve seen is a president who came into office when the economy was in free fall, losing 800,000 jobs a month, $10 trillion in wealth destroyed in 2008. The President, by bold action with the recovery, has stopped that, we’re starting to see some positive signs. You know, we got to see more, we’ve got more work to do, but I think the passage of historic health care and continued improvement of the economy is going to actually surprise some people in November in terms of how Democrats do.

RODRIGUEZ: You have 11 months to accomplish two pretty ambitious goals. If it doesn’t happen, Governor, should the Gov – should the President take responsibility for this?

KAINE: Well, you know, I’m not going go into the hypotheticals because like you say, we’ve got a 11 months where-

RODRIGUEZ: Well, but it hasn’t happened yet.

KAINE: Well it hasn’t – well, wait a minute-

RODRIGUEZ: So you have to consider that it may not happen.

KAINE: I think it has happened on the economy. We – again, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month when the President took office and what we’ve seen is those job loss numbers have been dramatically reduced. And we’re seeing a lot of positive signs in the manufacturing sector, returns of consumer confidence. Again, we’re not where we want to be yet. But I think that the two, you know, conditions you layout are very strong ones.

The President, we are going to get health care done, there’s immediate benefits in the health care bill for all Americans. Ending of insurance company abuses like, you know, pre-existing conditions or rescission of your policy if you get sick. Parents can keep kids on their policy until they’re 27, instead of 21. Seniors will get help with prescription drugs.

So while these retirements, you know, are ones that have – certainly happening on the same day, it’s a surprise – one of the things that I noted as I took a look at the landscape yesterday is, you know, while two Democratic senators are going to retire, six Republicans are retiring. Ten Democratic House members are retiring, but 14 Republicans. Two Democratic governors, but four Republicans. The retirements are really on the other side. And no surprise, there’s a huge corrosive civil war within the Republican Party that we see playing out all over the country that I think is going to continue to be a factor that will work in our favor in 2010.

RODRIGUEZ: We shall see. Governor Tim Kaine, thank you very much.

KAINE: Absolutely.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC