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Israel: House ‘In Play’ in 2012

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told reporters today that control of the House in 2012 is “absolutely in play.”

“I’m not saying that we’ve got the 25 seats that we need in the bank,” the New York Democrat said. “I’m not saying that the majority is a guarantee. I am saying that we are nipping at [Republicans’] heels, and we have the potential to overtake them over the next nine months.”

Israel also addressed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s tall order of a 35-seat pickup in November — 10 more than would be needed to gain control of the House.

“If she were to pay me, and she doesn’t, she wouldn’t pay me to be an optimist,” Israel said.

“[It’s] going to be razor-close,” Israel continued. “And the razor’s going to be sharpened or dulled not based on my optimism or pessimism, but by the mechanics we employ from here on in.”

Israel also discussed President Barack Obama’s national campaign influence on downballot races.

“We’re not advising any of our candidates to seek distance from the president. We’re advising them to reinforce ties to their districts,” Israel explained.

But he addressed Obama’s strategy to run against the Congress and whether that could adversely affect House Democrats.

“I’ve had the privilege of speaking to the president about this on several occasions, and I believe that he has been more assertive in using the word ‘Republican’ when he runs against the Congress,” Israel said.

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