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Both Parties Say Tea Party Hands Them November Wins

Republican Senators on Sunday predicted widespread victories for their party in November, but Democratic Party operatives said they could keep their hold on Congress thanks to the same group of voters earning GOP praise: the tea party movement.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) speculated that his party will do “very well” in November but said its members must come up with a “Contract With America” — a reference to the GOP document crafted during the 1994 elections — that details what they will do if they become the majority.

“When you look at the approval ratings [for the GOP], they’re just as bad as Democrats,” McCain said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’ve got to give Americans a reason to be for us rather than a reason to be against” President Barack Obama.

Items that should be high on the GOP agenda include a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, an earmark ban and repealing the health care overhaul, he said.

Both McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who appeared separately on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” praised the tea party movement and said its members bring energy to the GOP that could translate to wins in November. “Tea partiers are a great addition,” McCain said.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine conceded that “the polls are challenging right now” for his party, but he said it stands to benefit from the GOP candidates who are “far out of the mainstream,” namely from the tea party movement.

“We’re going to win some surprising races because of who the other guys put up,” Kaine said on “Fox News Sunday.”

David Plouffe, Obama’s political adviser, predicted that the tea party will be a problem for the GOP this fall and beyond because of its “extremism” and “intolerance.”

“Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, they are the leaders of the party,” Plouffe said on “Meet the Press.” “I think you’ll see in ’11 and ’12 with that presidential primary, those are going to be the people who come out to vote.”

Plouffe said Democrats need to do two crucial things until November to keep their control of Congress: get their base more enthusiastic about voting, and make it clear to undecided voters that Republicans have no new ideas.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been “talking about all the reform he’s going to bring,” Plouffe said. “I mean, give me a break. … Boehner, who would be the Speaker of the House, years ago was handing out checks from tobacco companies on the House floor. And he’s now up on Wall Street saying give us money because we’re protecting you by opposing things like financial reform.”

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