House Dems launch 'Drive for 25' to win back majority in 2012

CAMBRIDGE, Md. — House Democrats on Friday launched what they dubbed a “Drive for 25” to recapture the majority they lost last November.

The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), unveiled the new slogan at the caucus’s annual retreat in Maryland. The phrase refers to the 25 seats the party needs to take back the House in 2012.

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“My central job is to help us make it back to the majority, because when we make it back to the majority we can help the middle class make it here,” Israel told reporters at a press conference, where he appeared alongside Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the rest of the caucus's high command.

He laid out a two-pronged strategy for Democrats in the minority.

“We’re going to offer constructive, thoughtful, economic proposals to grow jobs like 'Make It in America,' ” Israel said, “and two, we are going to hold Republicans accountable when they do not support the interests of middle-class and working families in this country.”

Democratic leaders have sounded optimistic notes on their uphill battle to reclaim the majority. The third-ranking Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Thursday he was “bullish” on the party’s chances, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority leader, referred to Pelosi as “temporarily the leader” — as opposed to the Speaker.

Members of the caucus, Hoyer said, “do not have a minority psychology.”

“Their psychology is to act, to promote, to offer solutions to the challenges that confront our country,” he said.

The theme of much of the three-day retreat has been messaging — an element that there is near-universal agreement among Democrats that the party failed at over the last two years. Democrats have focused on Hoyer’s “Make It in America” agenda that strives to promote the nation’s manufacturing base and boost job creation.

“You can’t recruit the volunteers and you can’t raise the resources without a message and inspiration,” Pelosi said. As for the keys to winning back the House in 2012, she added: “It’s going to be message, it’s going to be mobilization at the grassroots level.”