DNC chief doubles down, says Democrats 'nuts' to run from party

Democratic candidates who are shunning their party and its policies are "nuts," Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said Thursday.

In an interview with Fox News to air Thursday night, Kaine said that Democratic candidates should "be proud of accomplishments" while on the campaign trail, even though President Obama and most Democratic policies are currently unpopular with the public.

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"I do think Democrats thinking that they can, you know, hold the Democratic label at arm's length, I do think that's nuts," he said. "You put the label after your name, be proud of it."

Kaine made similar comments in August, but his most recent remarks come as several endangered Democrats have gone to extreme lengths to distance themselves from the party in an effort to appeal to voters in their conservative-leaning districts.

Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor (Miss.), for example, said this week that he voted for Republican nominee John McCain — and not Obama — in the 2008 presidential election. 

In the final weeks of the midterm campaign season, President Obama and Democratic leaders have largely shied away from campaigning for endangered Democrats running in traditionally Republican states and districts, instead choosing to focus on motivating the party's base to drum up its enthusiasm about voting.

Obama is scheduled to travel to Bridgeport, Conn.; Chicago, Philadelphia and Cleveland during the final days of the campaign, all cities in traditionally Democratic or swing states. 

Most Democratic leaders have downplayed criticism from vulnerable members. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently said, "I just want them to win."

Kaine explained that he does not tell every candidate how to run his or her own race, saying, "people have to do what they think is right for themselves and for their constituents."

But he said it would not hurt to talk up the legislative accomplishments that the party has achieved over the past two years.

"You can go into the reddest district in America and say Democrats passed equal pay for women in this country and it's a good thing," he said. "Or say, Democrats saved an auto industry that was in danger of being carved up and sold off. That's a good thing. So you can pick the accomplishments you want to highlight."