Monitor Breakfast

Selected quotations from a Monitor breakfast with Representative Tom Davis (R-Va.).

Representative Tom Davis of Virginia is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. The group works to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives by raising money, offering assistance, and running voter drives. Here are excerpts from his remarks.

On prospects for keeping Republican control of the House:

"As I look at the playing field today, it is pretty even without much change, and I think we are as likely to pick up seats as we are to lose any seats. And I think losing [the] six seats [that form a Republican majority] right now, given the targets that are out there, is a huge stretch -- everything [would have] to fall in line for the Democrats on Election Day. We believe we will have the resources to be able to stop that.

"Now, five months is an eternity in politics. A lot of things can happen in between there. So, I don't want to make a prediction at this point about what is going to happen. But, we feel in a very comfortable position going into mid-terms."

On President Bush's lack of coattails:

"I don't think that the president's popularity picks us up one seat.

"Traditionally, one of the negatives you have at midterm elections are people who are angry with the president and send him a message by voting against that president's candidates for Congress. I think that is going to be absent this time.

"President Bush didn't bring anybody in on his coattails [in the 2000 election either]. In fact, of the eight seats we picked up last time, four of them were in districts Bush lost.

"The traditional factors that shape midterm elections and cause the party in the White House to lose them are just not present this time. That doesn't mean we gain seats. But it doesn't mean we lose them either."

On the war on terrorism's impact on the political climate:

"Less every day. But it could change overnight if there is another [terrorist] action."

On Democrats using scare tactics about Social Security:

"They will lie about it, they will laugh about it, and they will try to scare seniors. We think [that] is wrong."

On a Republican prescription benefit plan:

"We will have a benefit plan coming out right after the Memorial Day recess... we will pass a plan. The Democrats will say it is not enough, but they had their 40 years and they did nothing with it. They have a Democratic Senate and to date have done nothing with it. Our plan takes care of the people who have real problems. Everybody benefits from the plan, and we think it is a sound plan."

On campaign finance reform:

"The major beneficiary of campaign finance reform... was Bush [because] he gets to increase the donations from $1,000 to $2,000 that people can give him for his primary cycle next year. He won't be limited to spending the federal match...and raising the limit from $1,000 to $2,000 basically doubles the take...

"I frankly can't fault him for signing it under the circumstances, and I don't think most of these Democrats understood what they were doing."

On the lack of a national issue in the coming congressional elections:

"If you could get a national wave of any kind, you could see 25 seats move. I just don't see it at this point.

"I think the country is closely divided. I don't see the kind of signs you would see that would show a voter unrest -- whether it is 'throw the bums out' or [a clear party preference].

On comments by Democratic strategists that the public feels powerful people are not acting responsibly and are not being held accountable:

"Let's not kid ourselves. A lot of what the Democrats are saying now about 9-1-1 is trying to raise those doubts.

"The polling shows they have not gone very far with doing that yet. They are just looking for themes that will work.

"I just look at them and I say: they are nothing but an organized conspiracy to seize power. ...they have a different theme du jour. So far they haven't found anything that sticks. So they go back to their old bugaboo, Social Security, Medicare, mediscare...."

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