WASHINGTON – A top Republican lawmaker on Sunday predicted his party would win back the House of Representatives from Democrats in the November mid-term elections, as both parties previewed the arguments they will deploy in the battle for control of Congress.
Republican Representative Pete Sessions said his party would win "slightly over" 40 House seats, which would give them a slim majority in the chamber and, with it, the ability to derail President Barack Obama's agenda.
"I think our candidates are going to take us from good to great to victory," said Sessions, who oversees his party's electoral efforts in the House.
His Democratic counterpart, Representative Chris Van Hollen, said his party would retain control of the House despite threatening poll numbers and the impact of the sluggish U.S. economy.
"We know it's going to be a tough election," Van Hollen said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
All 435 House seats and 36 of 100 Senate seats are at stake in November. Analysts say Republicans could win back the House and possibly the Senate.
Vice President Joe Biden said Democrats would retain control of both chambers.
"I don't think the losses are going to be bad at all. I think we're going to shock the heck out of everybody," he said on ABC's "This Week."
Republican Senator John Cornyn predicted gains for his party in the Senate but stopped short of saying they would pick up the 10 seats needed to win control.
"If the election were held today, it would be a pretty good election," said Cornyn, who oversees the party's electoral prospects in the Senate.
Republicans said the November 2 vote would serve as an important check on Obama if the party won back Congress, while Democrats sought to tie Republicans to former President George W. Bush, who most polls show is even less popular than Obama.
"They want to go back to the same (Bush) agenda that got us into this mess," Van Hollen said.
Obama and his fellow Democrats argue that they have had a productive year and a half in Congress, having passed the greatest expansion of health care since the 1960s and the broadest rewrite of Wall Street rules since the 1930s.
Democrats passed an $862 billion stimulus package that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says has blunted the impact of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Republicans, however, argue that it has saddled the nation with an unsustainable debt.
A MID-COURSE CORRECTION?
Republicans said they will use anxiety over the economy and rising government debt and voters' skepticism of the stimulus and healthcare efforts against Democrats in the coming months.
"They've seen big government on full display here for a year and a half. They are appalled. They would like for it to stop, and the best way for it to stop is to have a mid-course correction," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.
"What we're trying to do is to make the president a born-again moderate," he said on CNN.
Democrats said they would try to frame the election as a choice between the two parties rather than a referendum on Democrats, arguing that Republicans would try to scale back or privatize popular entitlement programs and extend tax cuts for the rich.
"If the check and balance is to be with Big Oil, Big Insurance and Wall Street against the average individual, then that's where the Republican Party is at," said Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.
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