House Dems set out 'Six Core Values' for unified 2004 campaign message

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fulfilled a promise to fellow Democrats that they would have a coherent message to take to voters this fall by unveiling a six-point plan for a “New Partnership for America’s Future” yesterday.

Flanked by more than 150 members of her caucus, Pelosi said the pamphlet of “Six Core Values” would help Democrats articulate the message that will propel them to the majority for the first time since 1994.

Republicans dismissed Pelosi’s pamphlet as a political gimmick and called it a pale imitation of the “Contract with America” that the House GOP unfurled just before its sweeping victory 10 years ago.
 
 

Democratic leaders abounded with optimism. But even though some members of the caucus, especially those in close races, said the pamphlet would not change how they interact with voters.

Pelosi said the plan unveiled yesterday “reaffirms the commitment of House Democrats to these six core values for a strong and secure middle class, national security, prosperity, fairness, opportunity, community and accountability.”

Pelosi later told reporters, “There’s nothing new in here, but ours is a pledge to keep this promise.”

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) was equally upbeat, calling the Democratic initiative “the roadmap that we will use to lead and make our country stronger.”

Rep. Robert Matsui, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said, "Without a doubt, the values at the heart of House Democrats' New Partnership will resonate in every congressional district in the country and help lead us to victory in November."

The pamphlet offers a general paragraph to explain the six values, followed by specific policy proposals Democrats support to advance them.

In the “national security” section, for example, it reads, “guaranteeing military strength second to none, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, building strong diplomatic alliances to protect America’s national interests, and collecting timely and reliable intelligence to keep us safe at home by preventing terrorist attacks before they occur.”

Rep. George Miller (Calif.) one of the program’s key architects, said the project was three months in the works and a culmination of Pelosi’s leadership over the last year and a half.

As for the outside consultants who helped massage some of the language in the document, Miller explained that they asked, “‘What is your product?’ and we came up with our core values.”

“We talked to people about language. It’s the old question of how you get your message heard,” Miller said, adding that, in past elections, “there was no ‘there’ there for House Democrats.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) called the Democratic manifesto “a useful aid for the collective body of the House, seeking to gain the confidence of the American people.”

Jackson Lee said that she would not rely heavily on the pamphlet but expects challengers and newer lawmakers to use it.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) dismissed the Democrats’ new partnership. “Today is about the future, You won’t find it printed on a palm card. Today is not an end, but a beginning.”

In a reference to CBS’s imbroglio over President Bush’s National Guard service, DeLay joked that the Democratic pamphlet was “faxed to them from Abilene, Texas.”

He added that the Democratic agenda was written so broadly that he and Pelosi could agree on much of it.

Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said that Democrats have given themselves an “extreme makeover.”

He added, “For 10 years we have worked hard to expand the power of the people over the power of the government.”

It was unclear how moderate and embattled Democratic representatives would employ the pamphlet in their own campaigns.

Rep. Chet Edwards (Texas) said, “It’s not going to alter the way I am going to run my campaign, but in terms of getting us a positive message for national Democrats, it’s very positive.”

Rep. Dennis Moore (Kan.), who faces a tough race, said that he “never had any trouble articulating a good Democratic message in my district.”

“I’ll look at it and then tailor it to my needs,” Moore said.