Speaking shortly after sitting down for lunch with President Obama, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine offered one of the more explicit carrots yet to Democratic lawmakers still undecided about whether to support health care reform.
Cast a "yes" vote, Kaine said, and lawmakers will be rewarded by the activists in the party and even (he hinted) by the national Democratic groups
"The [Organizing for America] activists are incredibly engaged," Kaine told a group of reporters outside the White House. "They want to see reform happen. Maybe the way to say it is I think they will energetically respond and work very hard for those who were part of this reform effort."
Addressing the topic later, Kaine added: "The volunteers we have out there working, they are working on this because they care about health care. They care deeply about it ... That's why our activists are engaged. They want to solve a problem and they are clearly going to be very excited to work with those who they see as part of the solution."
The former Virginia Governor declined to say whether he or others would be deploying any political sticks to go along with the carrots. Instead, he offered a warning to his fellow Democrats: failure to pass legislation could seriously damage the party politically.
"I think it is a much more difficult situation for us," he said. "I think people want to see the governing party govern and with the majorities that we have and with the kind of leadership that we have I think again they are going to reward us for being problem solvers."
Asked about a growing sentiment that those lawmakers who defeat the health care should face a primary challenge in the next election -- a sentiment shared by Democratic strategist Donna Brazile -- Kaine pivoted to the observation that passing legislation would be "the right thing to do from a policy standpoint but it is also politically smart."
"I think this is going to be a positive," he said. "I think the American public rewards problem solvers. The American public rewards people who are not afraid to do the heavy lift. This isn't a little bill or a minor little thing. It is a big important one... And so I think the passage with the bill...right away the American public is going to see that and I think that is going to be very politically strong."
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