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House Democrats seek to shore up at-risk members

If you listen to House Democrats, President Obama's legacy depends on taking back the House in 2014.

If you listen to House Democrats, President Obama's legacy depends on taking back the House in 2014.

New York Congressman Steve Israel, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told The Washington Post Sunday, “The president understands that to get anything done, he needs a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. To have a legacy in 2016, he will need a House majority in 2014, and that work has to start now.”

The DCCC argues they have a viable game plan to take back seats they were unable to flip in 2012, thanks to earlier and better recruiting. But in order to beat the "Six-Year-Itch", still a long-shot possibility, House Democrats have to hold on to the seats they already have.

On Tuesday, the DCCC released its list of the 26 vulnerable incumbents it's designated as members of the 2013-14 Frontline program.

"These Members are on the vanguard of protecting and expanding the middle class,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement. “While the 2014 campaign will be dominated by a strong offense taking on the Tea Party Republican Congress, our success begins with our Members."

The list includes six of the NRCC's seven "top targets", Democrats from districts that Mitt Romney carried in 2012: Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.-01), Ron Barber (Ariz-02), John Barrow (Ga.-12), Mike McIntyre (N.C.-07), Jim Matheson (Utah-04), and Nick Rahall (W.V.-03).

It also includes a number of Democratic freshmen, including Reps. Ami Bera (Calif.-07), Julia Brownley (Calif.-26), Cheri Bustos (Ill.-17), Bill Enyart (Ill.-12), Elizabeth Esty (Conn.-05), Pete Gallego (Texas-23), Joe Garcia (Fla.-26), Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.-02), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.-18), Patrick Murphy (Fla.-18), Scott Peters (Calif.-52), Raul Ruiz (Calif.-36), Brad Schneider (Ill.-10), and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.-09). Many of the remaining members were redistricted and ran in new districts in 2012. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., will lead the program as its chairman.

The NRCC plans to target the Frontline members with digital ads. NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek responded in a statement, “Democrats started the year talking about how they were going to win the majority, yet now, they are releasing a list of 26 vulnerable incumbents they are not even confident will win."

While Republicans do their best to play up the Post story, the White House is trying to knock it down. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday on the Senate floor, "I know Washington Democrats' most important priority right now is getting Nancy Pelosi her old job back in 2014. But that's not what Americans want—and that's why Washington has become so dysfunctional."

House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy echoed, "America believes the election is over, that the roadshow president should stop and we should start an agenda that puts people back to work. That’s the difference and the frustration that the House has with the White House.”

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney denied to reporters Monday that the White House is preoccupied by the next election.

“I think it goes without saying that a president wants those in his party to do well, but it is not a focus of his, particularly at this point,” Carney said. “He is focused on trying to get a bipartisan consensus around some very important policy objectives."