Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel said Friday he thinks the party can use GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's comment dismissing "47 percent" of Americans to fight Republicans lower on the ticket, comparing the opportunity to the boost Democrats got in August when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was named the GOP vice presidential candidate and Rep. Todd Akin made comments on "legitimate rape."
The New York congressman told reporters Friday Democrats will use Romney's "47 percent" statement as much as possible, including it in campaign ads in priority districts.
"It's not the statements that bother me," he said of Romney's claim that 47 percent of people are dependent on government and don't want to change. "It's what they believe."
The DCCC outraised its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, by more than $4.8 million in August, although the GOP group still has more cash on hand.
Israel said he is hopeful Democrats can take back the House, which they lost control of in 2010. The committee highlighted 12 candidates from districts picked to be a part of the DCCC's Red to Blue program, an effort to focus on Republican-held seats the campaign committee believes will be competitive for Democrats in the fall.
"Races that were on the bubble in the beginning of August are now in play," Israel said. "The wind is at our backs."
But Israel was less bullish than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was earlier this month when she predicted that Democrats have "a very excellent chance" at retaking the majority in November. When asked about reports predicting that Democrats will pick up less than the 25 seats necessary to reclaim the majority, Israel claimed he does not "get wrapped up in independent analyses."
He highlighted conservative leaning super PACs and state voter ID laws as obstacles for Democrats in November.
"If the Republicans are claiming that they're going to spend $80 to a $100 million against us. ... No surprise there," he said. "If they're truly going to spend $80 to $100 million against us, we're going to have to rely on allies to reduce that spending disparity."
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