House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday predicted that President Obama will win re-election next year regardless of who Republicans select as their nominee.
With polls over the past few months showing the GOP primary field in flux, the No. 2 House Democrat told reporters at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing that “the Republicans have a candidate-of-the-week” and predicted that “whoever the candidate is, Barack Obama is going to be re-elected.”
“He’s going to show the strength that he’s shown as president,” Hoyer said of Obama. “I said last night he’s shown a great deal of courage in confronting very, very difficult issues, and I think his record of accomplishment – not talk, not ideas, but his record of accomplishment – is very substantial. ... I think the American public, when they compare candidates – whoever the candidate on the Republican side has to be – are going to conclude that they made a correct decision in 2008 and they’re going to ... I think repeat that decision in 2012.”
Asked about Newt Gingrich’s prospects in the race for the White House, Hoyer declined to weigh in specifically on the former speaker but joked that Republicans’ frequent presidential primary debates are a boon to Democrats.
“I have some insights that I could probably offer,” Hoyer said with a laugh when asked for his thoughts on the Georgia Republican’s four years as speaker in the 1990s. “Let me say that I do, however, appreciate all eight of the people who participate on a weekly basis in these debates. I think they’re helping us greatly.”
Is Gingrich the same person now as he was as speaker?
“I don’t know that I can answer that question, because I’m not sure who he professes to be now. I do know who I thought he was then,” Hoyer responded, declining to elaborate.
Hoyer also said that he was “saddened” but “not shocked” this week to learn of Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) plans to retire in 2012.
The announcements in recent days by Frank and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) have brought to 17 the number of House Democrats not seeking re-election in 2012 – a number that would seem to suggest trouble ahead for Democrats, but as The Fix’s Aaron Blake points out, eight of those 17 are retiring from the House to run for higher office.
Hoyer, who on Monday filed the paperwork to run for his 16th full term, made the case that “members are energized” and that Democrats stand poised to take back the House in 2012.
“I think there’s a great deal of confidence in the Democratic caucus that we can and that we will take back the House,” Hoyer said. “It is a very difficult context in which this next election is going to be run. But my personal experience is that the American people, the people in my district, are looking for answers, not confrontation. I think what they got with the Republicans is confrontation, which is why I think that Congress is in such low repute and why we are generically ahead in almost every poll over the Republicans.”