Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), the man charged with winning back the House for Democrats, told reporters Wednesday that Republicans have made his job easier thanks to their string of controversial abortion bills.
“They haven’t focused on revitalizing jobs,” he said at the briefing held at Democratic Party headquarters. “They’ve focused on redefining rape.”
House Republicans were forced to back off from a plan to change the rape exemptions in federal bans on abortion funding to include only “forcible rape” after a flurry of controversy about what exactly the change would mean.
But Israel said the damage was done, and now the GOP will have to suffer the consequences.The DCCC began raising money off the “forcible rape” fight almost as soon as it began, turning to a fired-up based to help refill their coffers after suffering heavy election losses in 2010.
Israel now says the issue can be used to separate the new Republican majority from the swaths of largely suburban independent voters who helped put the GOP in control of the House. Those voters, he said, are not interested in a Congress that’s focused on making abortions harder to obtain.
“We cannot gain 25 seats and take the majority without those nine million independent voters,” he said. “[They] elected Republicans because Republicans said that on day one they would focus on revitalizing jobs. And what did they do on day one? They redefined rape.”
“That is not what independent voters expected from the new republican majority,” he said. “And we will hold Republicans accountable for that kind of agenda.”
In the half-hour briefing, Israel painted a picture of a Democratic Party that’s ready to move on from the last election and take on the Republicans full-force in the next one. He said the party has “gone through the five stages of grief” and is now focused on raising and spending the money necessary to make electoral politics work.
From redistricting to candidate recruitment to fundraising, Israel was perhaps predictably bullish on his party’s prospects.
“Being in the minority sucks,” he said. “But being in the minority and being in the position to do something about it is priceless.”