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Two takes on presidential race and Bush's speech

Steny Hoyer and Richard Durbin, key members of the Democratic congressional leadership, shared their views Tuesday.

Sen. Dick Durbin was a guest of the Monitor Breakfast on Tuesday.

M. Spencer Green/AP

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Washington - When House majority leader Steny Hoyer (D) of Maryland and Senate majority whip Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois met reporters Tuesday to discuss the president's State of the Union address, many of the questions focused instead on the 2008 presidential election.

Senator Durbin, who is co-chairman of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign, said it was "nothing short of amazing" that the campaign was able to keep secret Sen. Edward Kennedy's decision to endorse Senator Obama from last Wednesday until Sunday. He said the endorsement, formally announced at a Washington rally Monday, "was historic and will give momentum to the victory in South Carolina."

But at the Monitor-sponsored breakfast, Durbin raised the possibility that the Democratic nomination battle could be so close that the winner might not be known until the party's August convention in Denver. "It could be, really could be, the situation where we will be headed to Denver with still some uncertainty about who the nominee will be," he said.

Both men reacted sharply to charges by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that Washington is broken. "If Washington is broken, the Republicans broke it," Representative Hoyer said. "If Washington is broken from Romney's perspective, it is broken because the president and the Republicans in the United States Senate who have enough votes to prevent action in the United States Senate are the ones who broke it."

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