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B y October, the polls we were getting didnt look too bad, but the atmosphere on the campaign trail still didnt feel good. Before we left for the Middle East, Hillary had called our old pollster Dick Morris for his assessment. Dick took a survey for us and the results were discouraging. He said that most people didnt believe that the economy was getting better or that the deficit was declining; that they didnt know about any of the good things the Democrats and I had done; and that the attacks on Gingrichs contract werent working..moncler outlet online.
My approval rating had risen above 50 percent for the first time in a while, and voters responded positively when told about the family leave law, the 100,000 new police in the crime bill, the education standards and school reform, and our other achievements. Dick said we could cut our losses if the Democrats would stop talking about the economy, the deficit, and the contract, and concentrate instead on their popular legislative accomplishments. And he recommended that when I returned to Washington, I should stay off the campaign trail and remain presidential, saying and doing things that would reinforce my higher ratings. Morris believed that would do more to help the Democrats than my plunging back into the political fray. Neither recommendation was followed..moncler outlet.
The Democrats had no mechanism to move a new message quickly into every contested state and congressional district where it would make a difference; though I had done a lot of fund-raising for individual candidates and the House and Senate campaign committees, they had wanted to spend the money in the traditional way..cheap moncler jackets.
I called back to the White House from the Middle East trip and said I thought that, on my return, I should stay at work and make news rather than go back to the campaign trail. When I got home I was surprised to find my schedule packed with trips to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Rhode Island, New York, Iowa, Minnesota, California, Washington, and Delaware. Apparently, when my own poll numbers started rising, Democrats around the country asked that I campaign for them. They had been there for me; now I had to be there for them..moncler outlet online.
While campaigning, I tried to keep emphasizing our shared accomplishments: signing the California Desert Protection Act, which protected 7.5 million acres of magnificent lands in the wilderness and national park systems; highlighting the large financial benefits of the new direct student-loan program at the University of Michigan; and doing as many radio interviews about our record as I could. But I also did big rallies with boisterous crowds, where I had to speak loudly to be heard. My campaign riffs were effective for the party faithful, but not for the larger audience who saw them on television; on TV, the hot campaign rhetoric turned a statesman-like President back into the politician the voters werent sure about. Going back on the campaign trail, while understandable and perhaps unavoidable, was a mistake..cheap moncler jackets.
On November 8, we got the living daylights beat out of us, losing eight Senate seats and fifty-four House seats, the largest defeat for our party since 1946, when the Democrats were routed after President Truman tried to get health insurance for all Americans. The Republicans were rewarded for two years of constant attacks on me and for their solidarity on the contract. The Democrats were punished for too much good government and too little good politics. I had contributed to the demise by allowing my first weeks to be defined by gays in the military; by failing to concentrate on the campaign until it was too late; and by trying to do too much too fast in a news climate in which my victories were minimized, my losses were magnified, and the overall impression was created that I was just another pro-tax, big-government liberal, not the New Democrat who had won the presidency. Moreover, the public mood was still anxious; people didnt feel their lives were improving and they were sick of all the fighting in Washington. Apparently they thought divided government would force us to work together..cheap moncler jackets.
Ironically, I had hurt the Democrats by both my victories and my defeats. The loss of health care and the passage of NAFTA demoralized many of our base voters and depressed our turnout. The victories on the economic plan with its tax increases on high-income Americans, the Brady bill, and the assault weapons ban inflamed the Republican base voters and increased their turnout. The turnout differential alone probably accounted for half of our losses, and contributed to a Republican gain of eleven governorships. Mario Cuomo lost in New York with a miserable Democratic turnout. In the South, thanks largely to an extraordinary effort by the Christian Coalition, Republicans routinely ran five or six points ahead of their positions in the pre-election polls. In Texas, George W. Bush defeated Governor Ann Richards, despite the fact that she had a 60 percent job approval rating..moncler outlet online.
The NRA had a great night. They beat both Speaker Tom Foley and Jack Brooks, two of the ablest members of Congress, who had warned me this would happen. Foley was the first Speaker to be defeated in more than a century. Jack Brooks had supported the NRA for years and had led the fight against the assault weapons ban in the House, but as chairman of the Judiciary Committee he had voted for the overall crime bill even after the ban was put into it. The NRA was an unforgiving master: one strike and youre out. The gun lobby claimed to have defeated nineteen of the twenty-four members on its hit list. They did at least that much damage and could rightly claim to have made Gingrich the House Speaker. In Oklahoma, Congressman Dave McCurdy, a DLC leader, lost his Senate race because of, in his words, God, gays, and guns..cheap sexy prom dresses.
On October 29, a man named Francisco Duran, who had driven all the way from Colorado, protested the crime bill by opening fire on the White House with an assault weapon. He got off twenty to thirty rounds before he was subdued. Luckily, no one was hurt. Duran may have been an aberration, but he reflected the almost pathological hatred I had engendered among paranoid gun owners with the Brady bill and the assault weapons ban. After the election I had to face the fact that the law-enforcement groups and other supporters of responsible gun legislation, though they represented the majority of Americans, simply could not protect their friends in Congress from the NRA. The gun lobby outspent, outorganized, outfought, and outdemagogued them..cheap plus dresses.
The election had a few bright spots. Ted Kennedy and Senator Dianne Feinstein prevailed in tough campaigns. So did my friend Senator Chuck Robb of Virginia, who defeated conservative talk-show host Oliver North of Iran-Contra fame, with the help of an endorsement from his Republican colleague Senator John Warner, who liked Robb and couldnt stand the thought of North in the Senate..cheap long dresses.
In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Congressman Bart Stupak, a former police officer, survived a tough challenge in his conservative district by going on the offensive to defend himself against the charge that his vote for the economic plan hurt his constituents. Stupak ran ads comparing the exact number of those who got tax cuts with those who had gotten tax increases. The ratio was about ten to one..cheap ball gowns.
Senator Kent Conrad and Congressman Earl Pomeroy were reelected in North Dakota, a conservative Republican state, because they, like Stupak, aggressively defended their votes and made sure the voters knew the good things that had been accomplished. Perhaps it was easier to counter the blizzard of negative TV ads in a small state or a rural district. Regardless, if more of our members had done what Stupak, Conrad, and Pomeroy did, we would have won more seats..Plus Dresses.
The two heroes of the budget battle in the House met different fates. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky lost her wealthy suburban Pennsylvania district, but Pat Williams survived in rural Montana..prom girl dresses.
I was profoundly distressed by the election, far more than I ever let on in public. We probably would not have lost either the House or the Senate if I had not included the gas tax and the tax on upper-income Social Security recipients in the economic plan, and if I had listened to Tom Foley, Jack Brooks, and Dick Gephardt about the assault weapons ban. Of course, if I had made those decisions, I would have had to drop the EITC tax cut for lower-income working families, or accept less deficit reduction, with the attendant risk of an unfavorable response from the bond market; and I would have left more police officers and children at the mercy of assault weapons. I remained convinced that those hard decisions were good for America. Still, too many Democrats had paid a big price at the hands of voters who nevertheless would later reap the benefits of their courage in greater prosperity and safer streets..sexy prom dresses.
We might not have lost either house if, as soon as it became clear that Senator Dole would filibuster any meaningful health reform, I had announced a delay in health care until we reached a bipartisan consensus, and had taken up and passed welfare reform instead. That would have been popular with alienated middle-class Americans who voted in droves for Republicans, and, unlike different decisions on the economic plan and the assault weapons ban, this course of action would have helped the Democrats without hurting the American people.
Gingrich had proved to be a better politician than I was. He understood that he could nationalize a midterm election with the contract, with incessant attacks on the Democrats, and with the argument that all the conflicts and bitter partisanship in Washington the Republicans had generated must be the Democrats fault since we controlled both Congress and the White House. Because I had been preoccupied with the work of the presidency, I hadnt organized, financed, and forced the Democrats to adopt an effective national counter-message. The nationalization of midterm elections was Newt Gingrichs major contribution to modern electioneering. From 1994 on, if one party did it and the other didnt, the side without a national message would sustain unnecessary losses. It happened again in 1998 and 2002.
Though far more Americans had received tax cuts than income tax increases, and we had reduced the government to a much smaller size than it had been under Reagan and Bush, the Republicans also won on their same old promises of lower taxes and smaller government. They were even rewarded for problems they had created; they had killed health care, campaign finance reform, and lobbying reform with Senate filibusters. In that sense, Dole deserves a lot of credit for the Republican landslide, too; most people couldnt believe that a minority of forty-one senators could defeat any measure except the budget. All the voters knew was that they didnt yet feel more prosperous or more secure; there was too much fighting in Washington and we were in charge; and the Democrats were for big government.
I felt much as I did when I was defeated for reelection as governor in 1980: I had done a lot of good, but no one knew it. The electorate may be operationally progressive, but philosophically it is moderately conservative and deeply skeptical of government. Even if I had enjoyed more balanced press coverage, the voters probably would have had a hard time sorting out what I had accomplished in all the flurry of activity. Somehow I had forgotten the searing lesson of my 1980 loss: You can have good policy without good politics, but you cant give the people good government without both. I would not forget it again, but I never got over all those good people who lost their seats because they helped me dig America out of the deficit hole of Reaganomics, made our streets safer, and tried to provide health insurance to all Americans.
On the day after the election, I tried to make the best of a bad situation, promising to work with the Republicans and asking them to join me in the center of the public debate where the best ideas for the next generation of American progress must come. I suggested we work together on welfare reform and the line-item veto, which I supported. For the time being, there was nothing more I could do.
Many of the pundits already were predicting my demise in 1996, but I was more hopeful. The Republicans had convinced many Americans that the Democrats and I were too liberal and too tied to big government, but time was on my side for three reasons: because of our economic plan, the deficit would keep coming down and the economy would continue to improve; the new Congress, especially the House, was well to the right of the American people; and, despite their campaign promises, the Republicans would soon be proposing cuts in education, health care, and aid to the environment to pay for their tax cuts and defense increases. It would happen because thats what ultra-conservatives wanted to do, and because I was determined to hold them to the laws of arithmetic.