Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is downplaying the effect that the retirement of two of his long-time Democratic colleagues would have on the GOP's chances of retaking the Senate in 2010.
Responding to a question from a Des Moines Register reporter on Wednesday about whether the retirements of Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) were likely to pave the way for a Republican takeover, Grassley said: "No."
"I don't think you should get expectations too high," Grassley told the Register.
Republicans are within striking distance of upending the Democrats' 60-vote majority, and Grassley did acknowledge that the GOP's prospects of picking up seats -- rather than losing them -- had improved significantly in the last year.
On Fox News earlier this week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said Republicans were unlikely to take back the House of Representatives in 2010.
But National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain reiterated on Wednesday that the committee's goal for 2010 was "to recapture the majority" in the House.
"Independent political analysts and even liberal columnists have stated that Republicans have a very real shot at taking back the majority in 2010," Spain said. "Make no mistake about it, we are playing to win."