DNC OFFENSIVE GETS UNDERWAY…. It’s hardly a secret that this midterm cycle is going to be extremely difficult for Democrats. A weak economy, an enraged Republican base, and a disillusioned Democratic base combine to create a bleak electoral landscape.

But Democratic leaders hope it’s not too late. With 55 days until the first Tuesday in November, the party begins its election-season push in earnest today — with the hopes that it’s not too late.

As part of the offensive, President Obama will be in Cleveland, talking about the economy; Vice President Biden will on “The Colbert Report”; and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine will seemingly be everywhere, leading up to a big speech at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

I got an advance look at Kaine’s remarks, and not surprisingly, the party chief has a fairly compelling message to share. He’ll tout the benefits of the stimulus (“Up to 3.3 million people employed in June owed their jobs to the Recovery Act”), and highlight the fact that Republicans were on the wrong side of every key policy debate of recent years (fought for insurance companies during the heath care fight, fought for BP during the oil spill, fought for Wall Street during financial reform, etc.)

But the crux of the message is that Republicans will take America backwards, and be even more extreme than the GOP of the Bush/Cheney era. Kaine intends to highlight some of the more unhinged beliefs of Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, Joe Miller, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan, before turning his attention to the would-be Speaker.

“[L]et’s look no further than the man who is already measuring the drapes for the Speaker’s office, minority leader John Boehner, for how Republicans would govern and what their priorities would be. Just recently Mr. Boehner led Republican opposition to legislation to help states facing tough times keep teachers, firefighters and police on the job. He said — now listen here — he said these people — those who teach our kids and run into burning buildings and walk the beat in our neighborhoods — are just a bunch of special interests. Now, if that wasn’t bad enough Mr. Boehner and other Republicans also railed against how the bill was paid for which was by closing tax loopholes that encourage American companies to ship jobs overseas.

“So, in Mr. Boehner’s world — teachers, police and firefighters are undeserving special interests but companies which use tax loopholes to ship American jobs overseas deserve some type of special protection. Incredible. […]

“On Election Day, it will be Americans’ turn to choose. They can choose Republicans who drove our country into a ditch. Who have not offered a helping hand to the millions of middle class Americans they left stranded at the bottom. And who have not presented a single idea for how to get America growing again.

“Or they can choose Democrats who are helping us climb out of that ditch. Who have taken the bold actions necessary to repair the damage caused by nearly a decade of failed Republican leadership. And who are committed to doing everything within their power to help American families, workers, and businesses succeed.”

I have no idea if this will resonate. An angry electorate, frustrated by the economy, may even believe every word Kaine says, and still vote for a discredited Republican.

But for all the assumptions that the midterms are already over, and Democrats might as well play dead for the next eight weeks, the party clearly believes it has a shot.

Democrats are treating this like a two-month campaign, and it starts today. Stay tuned.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.