DCCC chairman: GOP impeachment talk 'moving our base'

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said the Republican lawsuit against and push for impeachment of President Obama is paying dividends for his party.

“I think that the Republican strategy of lawsuits, approaching impeachment, is fundamentally misfiring,” he told reporters at a Tuesday breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor

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“Look, I understand their strategy is intended to gin up their base, but it’s having the unintended consequence of moving our base in a midterm election and also moving persuadable voters, swing voters to us in a midterm election," said the Democratic leader. 

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked whether the White House coordinated the impeachment talk with the DCCC.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Earnest said, adding “it would be difficult for me to coordinate a response to a question that hadn’t be asked yet.”

On Friday, Earnest doubled down on the threat of impeachment from prominent Republicans after White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer raised the possibility with reporters that morning.

Earnest explained his response on Friday was “based on my own reading of the newspaper.”

Asked if the White House is “freaking out” about the threat of impeachment, Earnest said “we’re very disappointed” House Republicans are spending this last week before recess pursuing a lawsuit against President Obama. 

“We believe the Republican priorities that they have articulated are completely wrong,” he said. 

Israel said since House Speaker John Bohner (R-Ohio) announced the lawsuit targeting Obama, the DCCC raised $7.6 million online, including contributions from 74,000 new donors, with contributions averaging just $19.

On Monday alone, Israel said the campaign committee raised $1 million online in 24 hours. Even though Republican leaders have said they have no plans to pursue impeachment, Democrats have been sounding the alarm over the possibility, and their outrage appears to be quite literally paying off.

Israel, however, denied the suggestion he’s rooting for impeachment, calling the possibility “horrific.”

The DCCC has consistently outraised its GOP counterpart this cycle, bringing in a total $127.4 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $101 million. 

Democrats will need those funds, as they face a difficult environment heading into the midterm elections. With President Obama suffering persistently low popularity and historical trends working against them, Republicans are predicted by most nonpartisan election forecasters to pick up seats this fall.

NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) said Monday he feels the political headwinds are blowing so strongly against Democrats, there will be another GOP wave this November. But Israel balked at the suggestion.

“Look, it’s a tough environment, but it is not a 2010 Tea Party environment,” said Israel. 

He said while the president is “not where we want him to be” in terms of his popularity, he helps them in their three battleground states, where they have most of their competitive districts: Illinois, California and New York.

And he argued that “voter revulsion is aimed” at the GOP, which he said is “limping into recess, wounded by its excesses” on impeachment and the GOP lawsuit. 

Still, Israel admitted the rise of GOP super-PACs and their expected investment in competitive house races “keeps me up at night.” 

He cited GOP Reps. Steve Southerland (Fla.), Mike Coffman (Colo.) and Michael Grimm (N.Y.) as places Democrats are most likely to pick up seats — but admitted he’s concerned about Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan of Minnesota, who faces a challenge from Republican businessman Stewart Mills. 

This story was updated at 1:45 p.m.