washingtonpost.com
How to Take Back Congress: Advice for the Democrats

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Stress the GOP's lack of competence. And stress what we intend to do. Retaliation is not what the voters want to hear -- no impeachment talk. They want to see that we can be competent in solving their problems.

-- Tony Coelho, chairman of Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign

Spend less time opposing and more time proposing how we can fix the mess that the GOP leadership in Washington has put us in. Democratic governors are succeeding in some of the reddest states in the country. The national party needs to adopt their mainstream message.

-- Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico

Inspire the base, motivate it, give it a reason to get out and work hard for our candidates, because the Republicans are sure as heck going to give their supporters plenty of reasons to turn out.

-- Markos Moulitsas, Daily Kos blog founder

Go for the jugular as the Republicans always do with Democrats. Just keep saying, "The Republicans lost the war in Iraq." Scare the hell out of people about all the ways we are unsafe: from global warming to terrorists so easily being able to penetrate ports or nuclear and chemical plants.

-- Bill Maher of HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher"

The war in Iraq is over except for the dying. Campaign for a date to bring our forces home. Speak for Americans on big issues like gas prices, health care, the environment and alternative energy. Don't be afraid to say we're for the people, not the powerful. Be Democrats -- for a change.

-- Robert Shrum, senior adviser to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign

Swear off the focus on strategy and tactics. Tell voters that if they want more of the same, vote Republican. If they want change, vote Democrat. Say what you think and let the chips fall where they may.

-- Joshua Micah Marshall, publisher and editor of Talking Points Memo

Go after tired Republican incumbents who have been there too long. Hold them accountable for the state of the nation. Make them spend huge resources defending what should be safe seats. Don't just be ready to "catch the wave." Get in there and make the wave.

-- Robert S. Strauss, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee

Talk a lot about Iraq. George Bush and the Republicans are losing the war. Democrats can do a better job. But stay committed to winning the peace. Too many Democrats are calling for withdrawal. Americans rightly loathe retreat and surrender. When the people ask what your Iraq position is, give 'em a one-word answer: victory.

-- Jack Quinn, White House counsel to President Bill Clinton

Be authentic. Be yourself. Watch tapes of Rep. Jack Murtha. Voters hunger for plainspoken talk about the challenges we face and what America should do to meet those challenges.

-- Tony Podesta, Pennsylvania campaign manager for John F. Kerry in 2004

Go after the soft or disaffected Republican voters the way the GOP has gone after traditional blue-collar Democrats, Catholics and seniors in the past.

-- Donna Brazile, campaign manager for Gore-Lieberman 2000

First, be yourself -- win or lose, you have to live with yourself. Next, don't get sidetracked. Finally, work together. Let's leave shooting at friends to Dick Cheney.

-- Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), former Senate Democratic leader

Reread Rudyard Kipling's poem "If." Any other advice is extraneous.

-- Joe Klein, Time magazine political columnist

Throw focus groups and polls aside. Americans crave leadership that lights the path toward peace, prosperity and a truly inclusive community.

-- Terence R. McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee

Push the special interests down the Capitol steps. Kick the oil habit and invest in alternative fuels. Pledge to provide affordable health care for all. Confront the president on Iraq.

-- John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress

Target women, and unmarried women in particular. They feel vulnerable and they want change. Reach out to these disenfranchised voters and persuade them to vote.

-- Dee Dee Myers, White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company