"I don't think it's enough for us to watch the Republicans self-destruct," Daschle said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think it's important for us to set forth some ideas that give the party an opportunity to define itself and to contrast with Republicans."Liveblogging Senator Daschle's speech tonight:
Daschle focused on increasing the use of alternative fuels and energy efficiency, and on repairing a health care system that he said is "the biggest single domestic problem facing our country today."
In addition, he said Democrats should confront President Bush on his policies in Iraq, calling for immediate withdrawal of 80,000 troops, bringing National Guard troops home and having all troops out of the country by the end of 2007.
Daschle, who lost his Senate seat in the last election, keynoted the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, the party's biggest annual fundraiser. He said Democrats can make real gains if they can sharpen their contrast with Republicans.
"It's not a given that 2006 and 2008 will be good Democratic years, but I think that given the direction and the environment, the backdrop is far more conducive to Democratic victories than we've had in a long time," Daschle said. "This doesn't guarantee them, but it does give us a leg as we start looking at these elections more seriously."[...]
The potential for victory stretches to Congress, where Democrats have had a much better recruiting year than two years ago, Daschle said.
"I honestly do believe that there is a better than even chance that we're going to take back the House and Senate," he said. "Two years ago in the House, all they could do was recruit 10 Democrats to run in competitive races. This year, so far, they've got 53 Democrats running in competitive races. They've actually raised more resources than Republicans to date."
Daschle said the message he offered on energy prices, health care and the war in Iraq will resonate with voters.
He offered specifics, such as a five point energy plan that includes an increased focus on renewable energy, but coupled it with energy efficiency and forcing oil companies to rebate some of the excessive profits they've reported as gasoline prices soared
"These kind of things are something this country has needed for a long time on energy," Daschle said. "I think this is just one example where government can specifically give this debate about the future of the country some meaningful direction."
The Democratic fundraising dinner comes as both parties begin girding for a midterm election that looks to be one of the most intense in years. In Iowa, the governor's office is coming open with Gov. Tom Vilsack not seeking a third term, and there are heated primaries in both parties.
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I wish I was at that speech. I wonder if the PAC site will be putting audio up next week. Senator Daschle is definitely on my short list for Vice President if he doesn't get the nomination. Obviously, I'm for Senator Bayh but Daschle is also a favorite Senator of mine.
Gordon lists the requirements in order to speak at the Iowa Jefferson Jackson Dinner.
You had to be (a) Iowa State Party Chair; or (b) a candidate for Governor; or (c) named Tom.