Hillary Clinton rallies House Dems amid push to curb GOP edge

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton met with House Democrats in Washington Wednesday
  • She sought to reassure down ballot candidates that she'll help them with congressional races in the fall

Washington (CNN)Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton rallied House Democrats Wednesday as she looks to unify the party ahead of their convention next month and possibly chip away at the Republicans' hold on the House.

Clinton promised to help down-ticket candidates, not swearing off the South -- even aiding Democrats targeting the North Carolina senate seat held by Richard Burr, according to several lawmakers who were at the meeting.
    "She talked about different states, she had command of that room, she knew the members' names," said Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan. "She talked about the midwest states, she talked about expanding, she talked about maybe we can pick up the North Carolina seat, the senate seat, she talked about gubernatorial races. "
    Clinton herself has staked out a general election strategy of balancing strong hits against Donald Trump with a focus on outlining key policy areas in controlled ways. But Trump, who had struggled for weeks amid a string of unforced errors, appears to be righting his ship with the firing of aggressive campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and a renewed focus on fundraising.
    Rep. Steve Israel said Clinton emphasized in her meeting with House Democrats that the presidential race can't just be about the vilification about Trump -- it has to be about the Democrats' agenda too
    Questions from Democratic members were about national security, economic security, local issues, according to Israel.
    "We're going to win this election-we're going to take back the House and the Senate," Clinton told reporters departing the meeting, before traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina, to give a speech on her economic policies.
    Democrats see room to exploit Trump's missteps, particularly in congressional races.
    Democrats are outnumbered 247-188 in the House and would need to win at least 30 Republican-held seats to win back the House in November. That would typically be an unthinkable task, with legislative maps drawn so tightly and so few swing districts left across the nation, but the impact of Trump has Democrats bullish that they can at least make a dent in the GOP's hold.
    Top Republicans, frustrated by a string of Trump stumbles since he became the presumptive nominee, have increasingly focused their efforts on holding both the House and the Senate as a buffer should Clinton win in November.
    House Speaker Paul Ryan has been a vocal force in these efforts -- leading fundraising efforts for his own members and taking vocal stances against Trump (despite endorsing him) when he feels the new GOP leader has overstepped his bounds.