LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — Democratic national chairman Tim Kaine told the party’s Maine convention Saturday that theirs is the party of underdogs in a challenging election year, yet the accomplishments of President Barack Obama in health care and other areas can deliver success in the November elections.
“It’s going to be hard, but … Democrats do hard. Democrats don’t mind hard. Democrats are used to hard,” Kaine said. “We’re not the overdog party, that’s the other guys. We’re the underdog party. I have never known a Democrat who minded running uphill. I have never known a Democrat who minded running into a headwind.”
Kaine said that “when the stakes are clear, and the stakes are clear this November, Democrats get energized” and fight to win.
Kaine, who was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee in January 2009, is traveling to different states to promote the agenda of Obama and Democratic officeholders and candidates. He also spoke to New Hampshire Democrats at their convention Saturday.
In Maine, the former Virginia governor said his party’s candidates can make a strong pitch for support in November by pointing to passage of the health care overhaul. But the stock market is also reviving, taxes are the lowest they’ve been in real dollars since the 1950s and “in 2010, we created more jobs in America than President George Bush in all his eight years as president,” Kaine told about 1,100 delegates and activists.
Republican promises to make the health care reforms an issue in the fall elections are welcome to Kaine.
“I hope they do. I hope we have a vigorous debate,” Kaine said. He called health care a historic achievement that belongs on the Democratic “mantle” alongside Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the Civil Rights Act.
While extolling his party’s achievements, Kaine said the nation continues to face daunting problems and challenges, most of which he blamed on Republicans.
He said Democrats are helping the nation “to climb out of the ditch” and “the last thing we need” is to elect GOP candidates in November.
Action at the Republican state convention two weeks earlier provided fodder for Kaine and each of the four Democratic candidates for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination to be decided June 8.
At their convention, Republicans adopted a tea party-inspired platform which called for abolishment of the Department of Education, labeled global warming a myth and said health care is a service and not a right, ideas that are an anathema to Democrats.
The GOP platform “looks like the Flat Earth Society’s mission statement,” chided Rosa Scarcelli. Pat McGowan said it’s “so extreme right, it is to the right of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh,” and vowed to “hook it to the back” of his Republican rival if he’s nominated.
Steve Rowe said “fear and blame are written into their platform,” and Libby Mitchell mocked the tea party appeal by inviting voters to her tea party of progressive actions and goals.
The Democrats adopted their own party platform that contrasts with the GOP statement of party principles, and turned back an amendment that would repudiate the Republican platform.