The Democrats' Strategy

(CBS)
Exactly 22 months ago, Democratic leaders in Congress began developing their strategy for winning control of Congress. Advised by top PR executives, they say they decided to take a chance: instead of pushing their OWN solutions for the country, they'd put their sole focus on President Bush. They needed to (in their words) "take him down" (meaning his approval numbers), and "undermine his credibility." THAT, they were told, was the path to victory. And so began a full-force attack on everything from the President's ideas to privatize Social Security to his handling of the war in Iraq.

The latest CBS News/New York Times poll indicates that at least some of that strategy may be working.

63% of registered voters -- both Democrats and Republicans -- say NATIONAL issues will matter most in their LOCAL Congressional races. And many agree that their feelings about President Bush might affect their vote.

But the poll also suggests Democrats may pay a price for not offering their own solutions: Republicans are perceived as having a clear plan for the country. (45% of those polled think Republicans have a clear plan; 38% think Democrats do).

But what if Democrats do win majority control of the House? (And some experts say that remains entirely plausible.) They'll be led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca), who recently laid out her own list of priorities, notable for what they Democrats WON'T do.

According to Pelosi:

The Democrats won't force a deadline for troop withdrawal from Iraq.

They won't hold immediate hearings on Abu Gharib or the War in Iraq.

And they won't try to impeach President Bush, as some have suggested.

Pelosi says they WILL move quickly to promote stem cell research, raise the minimum wage, and pass languishing 9/11 committee recommendations. Pelosi also promises no deficit spending. They may roll back tax breaks for people they consider wealthy. They may give more tax cuts to the middle class. When asked if they'll raise taxes, Pelosi says they intend to shift money currently being spent, but she wouldn't rule out tax hikes.

Of course, in reality, if Democrats win control of the House, but the Republicans hold on to the Senate, a lot of the Democrat's dreams dissolve into the category of: stalemate. It takes both the House and Senate to tango when it comes to making laws, and they likely wouldn't agree on much of anything if control is split.

And whatever happens, President Bush still has one more weapon in his arsenal, one he's only used once before: the veto pen.



  • Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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