WASHINGTON (CN) – Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said he was confident that his party would keep its House majority in the upcoming elections as voters in swing districts will be increasingly turned off by the “outrageous rhetoric” of emerging Republican candidates.
“Republicans are premature in popping the champagne bottles about November 2,” the Maryland Democrat said Friday at the National Press Club in Washington.
The congressional campaign chair called the new wave of Republican candidates “way out of the mainstream” and said they would turn off moderate voters.
He said the division between Republicans and Tea Party candidates is causing high Republican turnout in primaries, but said the Tea Party movement is driving the Republican primary debate toward the hard right, which will undermine the party’s success.
He added that the Republicans’ mistake in predicting sweeping wins in November is underestimating Democratic voter turnout.
“The campaigns haven’t happened yet,” Van Hollen said. With the November elections slightly more than nine weeks out, Van Hollen said candidates had plenty of time to sharpen their messages. And Democrats will succeed if they can get their message across, he said.
Democrats are running with a “patriotic, pro-jobs agenda,” Van Hollen said, while Republicans want to return to the “anything goes, ‘Let’s party'” attitude on Wall Street, which he called the “Bush economic agenda on steroids.”
Van Hollen said the call by House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, this week to halt recovery spending would cancel 64,000 contracts already in the works, eliminating jobs.
“Cancelling those contracts could easily precipitate a double-dip recession,” Van Hollen said. “America wants to move forward, not stay with economic policies that resulted in catastrophic job losses and brought our economy to the brink of collapse.”
Historically, after a new president takes office, the president’s party loses seats in midterm elections. Democrats must balance this trend with the fact that Democrats have picked up 55 seats in the House over the past five years.
But Van Hollen said he was confident that Democrats would win, “mostly because people do not want to go back” on issues such as health care and financial reform.
“Republicans would like the American people to have collective amnesia,” he said, using the Democratic campaign message that voting for a Republican majority would drive the country back into a ditch.
He said voters needed to read Republicans’ 2010 driving manual and realize that they wanted America to go backward.
“Americans are not going to go into hard reverse,” Van Hollen said.
The Democratic Party has known that this would be a tough election season since last year and is feeding funds to campaigns in swing districts, according to Van Hollen.
He said thousands of Democratic supporters were scheduled to knock on the doors of 200,000 homes across the country on Saturday, the same day thousands are gathering in Washington, D.C., for a “Restoring Honor” rally, frontlining Sarah Palin and conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck.
Van Hollen called the rally “blatantly political.” He said he was confident voters could distinguish between the messages by November.
“Americans are going to be turned off by the outrageous rhetoric on the right,” he said.