Democrats Push For More Campaign Cash

Democratic leaders in the House made a final push for campaign cash on Thursday evening before lawmakers leave town for the elections.

Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the last cycle, opened the meeting by mentioning tight polls in Idaho, Michigan and North Carolina before giving his successor, Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, another $50,000 to help the party's candidates there and elsewhere.

"I've been chairman," Emanuel told his colleagues in the Capitol basement, according to the notes of one attendee. "I know the decisions Chris has to make. This is about choices."

At that, Texas Rep. Chet Edwards interrupted Emanuel to tell the assembled Democrats, "I am in the most Republican district in the county. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the generosity of the people in this Caucus." Because of that generosity, he told lawmakers, he was writing a $100,000 to the DCCC.

Florida Rep. Ron Klein, a member of the historic freshman class, offered to give the Democrats' campaign arm in the House another $100,000 - after his initial $100,000 donation - because he is up six points in his own first reelection fight and wants to help his party pick up seats.

"This is the moment and we need to be a part of it," Klein said.

During his own remarks, Van Hollen told lawmakers their participation lagged that of outside donors, both big and small. "If we don't meet our members' goal," the chairman said, "we don't pick up as many seats."

"We need to make sure that when we wake up the morning after election day that we have no regrets," Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the group. "We will have the money from major donors and from the grassroots. Where we are short is the Members. The moment of truth is now. We have more real opportunity now than we can afford. Please pay your dues."