Pelosi Kicks Off Convention with Populist Message

Presser highlights strategy of Democrats to win back congressional seats

California’s Democrats gathering in San Diego for the weekend held their own “occupation" of sorts.

The message in the party’s press conference Friday afternoon at the start of the California Democratic Convention carried a populist message, riding off the momentum of the past year’s Occupy movement.

“Even in those Republican areas, we’re finding out that people care about figured out who is on their side and who is on the side of the 1 percent,” said Democratic Party Chairman John Burton in his opening remarks.

Though Pelosi seemed nervous to use the same terminology, in a list of priorities for party endorsements, she echoed a similar concern over income inequality.

“It isn’t even about politics really,” Pelosi said. “It’s about how important that particular race is to the lives of the working family.”

The election-year convention’s motto, “Battleground California,” refers to the uphill struggle to gain a majority in Congress. Doing this will require a “drive for 25,” as Pelosi said – or, victories for at least 25 more Democrats in the country. Pelosi said she would like to see three additional Democrats win in California.

In Friday’s press conference, the Democrats made it clear they will focus on unemployment and the income disparity achieve those victories. They are looking at the next election cycle optimistically, as employment figures improved since then. They pointed to congressional stalemate as the current hindrance to raising those figures.

“Polls show that the Republicans are fighting for the privileged and the 1 percent,” Burton said. “The Democrats are trying to include programs that help working people. It’s going to be a whole different chemistry in this election. This could be an absolute flip of 2010. If the people voted republican and they saw what they got, they now have what people call ‘buyer’s remorse.’”

Though both Occupiers and the Democratic Party have been reluctant to fully embrace one another as political partners, strategy going into the 2012 election appeared to parallel the Occupy sentiment on Friday.

“We Democrats are…building ladders of opportunity for people who want to work hard play by the rules take responsibility achieve success,” Pelosi said. “We build those ladders, and republicans take those ladders and walk away with them.”

For more 2012 political coverage, check out our elections page.

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