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Schumer on CBS: 60 Seats ‘Unlikely’

Updated: 3:10 p.m. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) sought Sunday to tamp down Democrats’ expectations for their chances of taking decisive control of Senate, saying that the magical filibuster-proof 60-vote majority may remain just out of reach. Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday morning, Schumer told host Bob Schieffer that while Democrats will do well on election night, achieving a 60-vote majority would be extremely difficult. “I think we are going to have a pretty good night,” Schumer said. “As for 60, that’s very, very difficult. It’s possible, but unlikely.” But Schumer predicted that even if Democrats fall short of the 60-vote level, they will still pick up enough seats to move legislation more effectively than this year. “Even with 56, 57 or 58 seats, we’ll be able to get a lot of things done,” he said. When asked about the status of Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) – who has caucuses with Democrats but endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president and attacked Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) candidacy – Schumer again declined to address the issue. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “has said we’re not going to debate that until Wednesday,” Schumer said. “So I’m going to stick with my leader on that one.” On the same program, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) blamed President Bush, the Iraq War and the recent economic collapse for the GOP’s Senate campaign woes. Ensign called the economic collapse “almost a body blow to Republicans,” and said that these outside factors have combined to aid what he called the most “liberal, left-wing radical group of candidates the Democrats have put up ever.” Ensign also criticized the Department of Justice for bringing charges against Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) so close to the elections. Stevens was convicted in his corruption trial last week, and his re-election is in serious jeopardy. “They had this information a year ago,” Ensign said, contending that if the case and subsequent convictions had happened earlier and a different GOP candidate had won the August primary, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) would not be leading in polls on the race. “I think Begich couldn’t win if it was a clear choice between a Republican and a Democrat,” Ensign said. Ensign also criticized McCain’s campaign – specifically the way it has used his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Ensign denied previous reports that he had been critical of the Palin selection. Rather, he said, he believed she has “energized our base” and if anything, “she, I believe, was mishandled by the campaign.” Though Ensign denied on “Face the Nation” that he had criticized Palin’s experience, he did say during an interview with a Las Vegas television station on Thursday that the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sen. Joseph Biden (Del.), was more qualified to assume the presidency than Palin. “Joe Biden is much more qualified than Sarah Palin is. I’d rather have the most qualified person at the top of the ticket, not No. 2,” Ensign told the Las Vegas station.

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