For the liberal wing of the Democratic Party seeking to coalesce behind Hillary Clinton, her running mate’s recent comments praising House Speaker Paul Ryan aren’t sitting well.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said he didn’t think Democrats would take back the House, telling CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday that Ryan will be a key to passing Clinton’s agenda.
“Paul Ryan was supposed to be a breath of fresh air,” said Representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona, a Sanders delegate who spoke Monday night at the party convention in Philadelphia. “But I’ve seen no more comity, or compromise, under Ryan.”
“He’s being pressured by the same people,” Grijalva said, referring to the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives.
Kelly Ward, the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is working to take back the House, said working with the Republican speaker “doesn’t mean you can get things done in the House.”
The comments reflect a natural split between the strategy of the presidential ticket and that for congressional candidates.
House Democrats are making the pitch that the party has to retake both chambers, not just the Senate, to have any chance of enacting a truly progressive agenda. Clinton and Kaine, meanwhile, want to sell a general-election audience on their ability to get things done in a divided government, given the nearly insurmountable odds of winning the 30 extra seats needed to return the speaker’s gavel to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
But Kaine insisted on Sunday that Clinton’s agenda wouldn’t be “DOA” despite a Republican House because of Ryan.
He noted that Ryan helped solve the 2013 shutdown showdown over defunding Obamacare, and his admiration for Ryan continued after he took the speaker’s gavel from John Boehner last year and helped craft a bipartisan spending bill.
“He wants to do things,” Kaine said. “He wants not just a portrait but he would like a legacy. That’s my belief. There’s going to be room to make some things happen.”
That’s not an exciting prospect to many of the delegates in Philadelphia hoping for big changes, like a doubling of the minimum wage, tax hikes on the wealthy, universal pre-school, debt-free public colleges and other campaign promises being made by Clinton and so far rejected by congressional Republicans.