Longtime ABC White House correspondent and news anchor Sam Donaldson tells Newsmax that Democrats will experience serious political trouble in November — but not because of Sunday's vote on healthcare reform.
Instead, he says, lingering economic woes will set Democrats up for a big setback in November.
"I think they're headed for trouble in November, beyond just the normal off year gain by the party not in power," Donaldson tells Newsmax. "Mainly because of the recession, we're still going to have a very high unemployment rate. And while I trust and believe that it will be slowly improving, it will not be improving so dramatically that they're not going to take it on the chin. Hey, they're the party in power.
"You can't say, 'Well it's George W. Bush.' Well, you can say that. But people want to know right now, 'You're boss, you're in power, you've got the votes, you're the president — what are you doing for me?' And when you say, 'Well, I've got this stimulus out there, and don't worry it's going to take hold.' Hey, if you can't pay your bills today, the fact that it's going to take hold tomorrow doesn't do you one bit of good, and you're still mad as hell, you're going to go vote the bums out."
Donaldson predicts that the controversy over healthcare reform will be neutralized by November, and he does not expect Democrats to lose many seats on that issue alone.
"People say, 'Well, you know a lot of the purported benefits won't kick in by November,' and that's true. But the reason I say that is a lot of the scare-tactic falsehoods, which are not based on facts, will have been exposed.
"There will be no death panels. Sarah Palin, I'm sorry, but no one will be assigned a number to go die. There will no cut in basic Medicare provisions in the standpoint of what's paid."
Donaldson, who rose to fame in part owing to his persistent questioning of President Ronald Reagan, said he believed all along that Democrats would rally to support President Obama's push to pass healthcare reform.
"They were not going to throw the president of their party under the bus," Donaldson tells Newsmax. "Whatever it took, hook, crook, promise, threats — they were going to pass a considerable bill that could be called, whether you like it or not, healthcare reform."
"It's just the way politics works," he says. "It always happens, not just at the 11th hour, at 11:59:30. That's when it always happens. You don't negotiation weeks and months, or even days in advance, and make a deal.
Democrats understood they would have to stick together or they could become individual targets, Donaldson says.
After a pause, he notes that some still could become targets, and adds, "But the party's ability to say to the country, 'We can govern. Now we'll argue about whether the way we governed is whether you like it or not' was simply at stake. And their president's whole prestige from the standpoint of having any clout, any time, in this term of his — which may be a single term, I don't know — would go down the drain. So they were going to pass the bill."
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