"We've gotten by that," the vice president said. "But it's amazing how these Republicans, the right wing of this party - whose philosophy threw us into this god-awful hole we're in, gave us the tremendous deficit we've inherited - that they're now using . . . the very economic condition they have created to blame the victim, whether it's organized labor or ordinary middle-class working men and women. It's bizarre."
The Democrats' plan for taking back the House they lost in last year's midterm elections runs through Pennsylvania, home to five congressional districts that supported Democratic nominee John Kerry in 2004 and President Obama in 2008 and that are now represented by Republicans: the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Districts in suburban Philadelphia, as well as the 15th in the Lehigh Valley and the 11th in northeastern Pennsylvania.
DCCC strategists are targeting those and nine other such districts around the nation, believing them especially amenable territory for the party's candidates next year. Democrats need to take 25 seats in 2012 to recapture the House and plan to invest in at least 47 districts, the committee chairman, Rep. Steve Israel (D., N.Y.), said.
"This is going to be razor-close, and the razor is going to be sharpened or dulled depending on what you do," Israel told 150 supporters in a ballroom at the science museum.
Tickets ranged from $500 per person, at the "friend" level, to $30,800 per couple, at the "host" level.
Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, the Democrat from Pennsylvania's 13th District in Montgomery County and Philadelphia, is in charge of recruiting candidates for the DCCC. Some potential prospects were in the audience, along with Mayor Nutter, Reps. Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady of Philadelphia, Rep. Rush Holt (D., N.J.), and former Sen. Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).
Attendees also included former Rep. Patrick Murphy of Bucks County; Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty; Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee in the 15th District last year; State Sen. Daylin Leach, of Montgomery County; State Rep. John Sabatina Jr.; and former State Rep. Bryan Lentz, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee in the Seventh District.
Biden said that taking back the House was crucial to the nation's prosperity because of the "fundamental debate" between Democrats and the GOP House majority.
While acknowledging the need to cut spending overall, Biden argued that the federal government needed to continue to invest in education, research, and infrastructure, because private enterprise lacked the resources to build ports or map a genome.
Biden, who was born in Scranton and represented Delaware for 36 years in the Senate, said he felt at home in Philadelphia. He comes to the city often, and civic leaders used to call him the state's third senator.
"Probably the only place in America where I actually am a value added to Obama is in Pennsylvania and in Scranton," Biden said.
"When you're in Scranton, you'd better say 'Obama and Biden.' . . . Around the country, I just hang on to his coattails, but in Scranton and in South Philly I don't do too bad."
Contact politics writer Thomas Fitzgerald at 215-854-2718 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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