Democrats’ Retreat Features Obama, Biden, Strategy, and Wine Tasting (Optional)

National Journal
Billy House
Feb. 12, 2014, 1:15 p.m.

Des­pite the loom­ing threat of a bliz­zard, House Demo­crats get in­to full swing with their an­nu­al strategy re­treat Thursday at a tony hotel on Mary­land’s East­ern Shore, com­plete with an ap­pear­ance by Pres­id­ent Obama, a speech from Vice Pres­id­ent Joe Biden, and an op­tion­al wine-tast­ing out­ing.

Most of the at­tendees beat the storm by ar­riv­ing Wed­nes­day for the ini­tial events of the three-day get-to­geth­er at the Hy­att Re­gency Ches­apeake Bay in Cam­bridge, Md.

And while Biden’s lunch speech Thursday and Obama’s break­fast ad­dress Fri­day are open to the me­dia, there is a long list of oth­er, more private strategy ses­sions, work­shops, and events, ac­cord­ing to a copy of the non­pub­lic agenda for the re­treat put to­geth­er by Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi and Caucus Chair­man Xavi­er Be­cerra.

The “break-out” is­sues ses­sions and work­shops be­gin­ning Thursday morn­ing in­clude “De­vel­op­ing a Win­ning Mes­sage,” mod­er­ated by Rep. Frank Pal­lone; “The Min­im­um Wage: Why We Fight, How We Win,” mod­er­ated Rep. Keith El­lis­on; and “Un­mar­ried Wo­men — They Will Elect You If You Get It Right,” mod­er­ated by Rep. Rosa De­Lauro.

There are sev­er­al ses­sions on how mem­bers can “Sharpen Your Me­dia Skills” as well, in­clud­ing one en­titled “Be­come a Q&A Ninja: Proven Tech­niques for Field­ing Dif­fi­cult Ques­tions.”

There’s also a work­shop on “En­fran­chising Amer­ica,” mod­er­ated by Be­cerra, and an­oth­er en­titled “Leave No Amer­ic­an Be­hind,” mod­er­ated by Rep. Joa­quin Castro with a pan­el of speak­ers that in­cludes Donna Brazile, the Demo­crat­ic Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee vice chair.

Rep. Steve Is­rael, chair­man of the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, and Rep. Debbie Wasser­man Schultz, the DNC chair, will mod­er­ate a ses­sion on “Fight­ing for Our Val­ues.”

Jim Yong Kim, pres­id­ent of the World Bank, is to give the key­note ad­dress at the din­ner Thursday night.

The agenda does in­clude some down time, in­clud­ing an op­tion­al “Taste of Mary­land Wine Tast­ing” out­ing and a tour of the nearby Har­riet Tub­man Mu­seum on Thursday.

The Demo­crat­ic Caucus re­treat comes two weeks after the House Re­pub­lic­ans’ own get-to­geth­er at the same re­sort, loc­ated about an hour and a half from Wash­ing­ton. In both cases, bus trans­port­a­tion from Cap­it­ol Hill was provided, and law­makers will pay for their own food and lodging.

But the House Demo­crat­ic Caucus will once again turn to tax­pay­ers — rather than spe­cial-in­terest money — to foot much of the re­main­ing costs of its own con­fer­ence. Mean­while, the GOP’s an­nu­al event was again sponsored by the Al­ex­an­dria, Va.-based Con­gres­sion­al In­sti­tute, a non­profit that re­lies on con­tri­bu­tions from cor­por­ate and trade-as­so­ci­ation mem­bers.

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