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Democrats' 2010 weapon: George W. Bush

December 18, 2009 |  9:49 am

President George W. Bush 

It's an axiom in U.S. politics that the party in power in the White House loses seats in off-year elections. So every Democrat from Barack Obama's White House to Nancy Pelosi's House of Representatives is girding for the fight in 2010.

But Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told reporters this week that Democrats have a plan: remind voters of George W. Bush.

"The Republican Party in Washington today is no different than the Republican Party that ran the Congress before," he said. As he told C-SPAN in a recent interview, Republicans in New York's 23rd Congressional District race proved themselves "ideologues" when they dumped a moderate Republican for tea-party favorite Doug Hoffman.

A bash-Bush strategy didn't work too well for Democrats in the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races this year, perhaps because polls show independents, who have been the arbiters of recent elections, are more concerned about the economy. But bashing Bush could play better on a national scale. Or not.

Meanwhile, conceding that the economy will be key, Van Hollen downplayed talk of a lot of Democratic retirements. And the congressman, instrumental in the Democrats' 2006 capture of the House, called Republican predictions of a GOP takeover "hyperbole."

Still, he warned Democrats to "fasten their seat belts and get ready from the start."

Maybe we all should.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Former President George W. Bush. Credit: Reuters

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