House Dems ready to start retreat

House Democrats are heading to Maryland's Eastern Shore on Wednesday to huddle on policy priorities and political strategy ahead of November's mid-term elections.

The theme of the three-day gathering, “strengthening ladders of opportunity,” highlights the Democrats' emphasis on economic policies like extending unemployment benefits and hiking the minimum wage, which they're hoping will reverberate with voters on the campaign trail this year.

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President Obama made a focus on the working class the central message of his State of the Union speech last month, and the president will likely revisit that theme when he addresses the Democrats on Friday morning as the headliner of the Cambridge, Md., gathering.

Vice President Biden will also attend the retreat and is scheduled to address the lawmakers on Thursday at noon.

Among the other notable figures expected to meet with the Democrats are Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank; Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-Prize winning economist; New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman; Marian Wright Edelman, head of the Children's Defense Fund; and Janet Murguía, who heads the National Council of La Raza, a national Hispanic-empowerment group.

“We're looking forward to a couple of days of real conversation, an opportunity to work with our colleagues … to make sure that what we do is come up with a strong agenda that really moves us to action, to try to help lift Americans so that we finally can say that that American dream is achievable,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), head of the House Democratic Caucus, said Tuesday. 

Behind closed doors, the Democrats will discuss a range of topics, including the minimum wage, unemployment benefits, women’s empowerment, ObamaCare and immigration reform.

On all of those issues, Democratic leaders are trying to underscore the stark differences between the parties when it comes to tackling the economic disparities between rich and working-class Americans, which have grown significantly since the recession's end.