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Sunday, May 07, 2006

In blogger call, Pelosi outlines Democratic strategy for 2006

Raw Story

In a call to bloggers this afternoon monitored by RAW STORY, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) outlined the Democratic strategy for winning the 2006 elections.

Pelosi and her fellow Democrats went into the current congress with an exceedingly weak hand. Republicans held both houses of the legislature, and Senator John Kerry's (D-MA) loss to President Bush in the general election left many within the party disillusioned. The Democrats had no way to govern, and very limited ways of getting their message out.

According to the Congresswoman, even liberal papers often refused space for Democrats out of fear of losing access to Republicans, who controlled both houses of congress and the presidency. "It was across the board," the Congresswoman said. "We couldn't get the established media to really tell the tale,."

Grassroots, Netroots become battlegrounds

"That's why we had to have over a thousand town meetings—we couldn't get anything in," she intimated. "We don't have the votes, people think we can't win, so why bother talking to us. That's the attitude around here."

Part of this plan to bypass mainstream media included using blogs. Pelosi implied that giving a story to Internet outlets, who then trump the mainstream media, is not only a means of getting a story out, but also a way to spur mainstream news sites into action, via competition.

"We had to leave Washington," she concluded, "to innoculate the public to what George Bush was doing and expose them to the horrors he was proposing."

Taking the hits

A more controversial aspect of the strategy was staying silent on alternative policies while the public reacted to Republican legislation.

Movement toward any agenda, Pelosi told callers, required first, "Laying a foundation, tak[ing] the Bush numbers down before we could do anything.
For us, it was about unifying the Democrats, about taking their numbers down, about getting our numbers up in the polls."

According to public opinion polsters, this strategy seems to have been met with success. "We're up fifteen, sixteen, seventeen points in the polls without people even knowing what the plan is. We've taken the mockery--'Oh, they don't have a plan'—in order to lay the groundwork.

"Our very constitution, our budget, our future, everything is at risk. If we have to take the heat on certain issues, we're willing to do that."

Moving forward

"We got the results we wanted," Pelosi feels. "Now, we're ready to go positive. [We have] a full media plan so that the American people will know who we are, what we stand for."

Pelosi says that the Democrats' vision for America started to go public in January, with a focus on, "honest leadership and real government. We next went to real security... In June, we go to our plan for family security--jobs, [and] the environment."

In the coming days, Democrats plan to spolight the fight against a penalty seniors late to sign up for a prescription drug plan will have to pay. The penalty, Pelosi explained, is a 1% increase for each month late—and continues for the rest of the recipients' lives. The Congresswoman cited a GAO report that stated 60% of confused seniors who called in to inquire about which plan best suited them received the wrong information from Medicare operators. "Handmaidens of the pharmaceutical industry put together a corrupt plan," she blasted. "And [seniors] are expected to pay for it the rest of their lives."

The party, according to Pelosi, plans to push the case that increased costs on seniors also affect the generation in the middle: adults with children and elderly parents that both require financial support.

The Democrats' Rural caucus also intends to announce next week more detailed information about the party's energy independence plan, which aims for energy independence in 10 years' time. "We're going to send our energy dollars to the midwest instead of the middle east," she hinted.

A reason to win

But the most important issue of the coming election, according to Pelosi, is also one of the least discussed: oversight.

"The Republicans during the Clinton years had done nothing but oversight of the intelligence," Pelosi explained. "Now that Bush is president, they've done no oversight."

When a caller interjected a note of concern, Pelosi fumed back in agreement, "It is dangerous!"

"I voted against the war, and sixty percent of the Democrats did, too. The intelligence was not there." The Democratic leader reiterated, "For people who say, 'If you saw what I saw'—it wasn't there."

"There have been no oversight hearings on Iraq, no oversight on Abu Ghraib," she marveled. "If there was one issue to win the election [for], it would be the power of subpoena—the American people should know."

Pelosi offers the Cunningham bribery scandal as another example of Congressional failure to oversee the war effort. "One of these contractors [linked to the bribery scandal] was supposed to be supplying the prevention for the improvised explosive devices. If this is a contractor that didn't do what it was supposed to, it cost American lives and the American people should know about that."

"I've been trying for a while," she explained, "but can't get the information because they do no oversight."