Sunday, December 17, 2017

Trump's Gift to Democrats: His Plans to "Help" Republican Candidates in 2018

As numerous news outlets are reporting, Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Trumpenführer, has ambitious plans to campaign for Republicans during the 2018 midterm election cycle.  There are few things more likely to aid Democrat candidates than tying their GOP opponents to the widely hated Trump, especially once the realization hits that the GOP tax bill, if enacted, screws most voters over time while heaping huge tax breaks for the obscenely wealthy.  Given Trump's proposed efforts  to "help" GOP candidates and efforts to get Democrats to intensify their get out the vote ground game, 2018 could be a very good year for Democrats. Yesterday afternoon between parties, the husband and I spent some time with Virginia governor elect Ralph Northam and his wife (while the husband cut Ralph's hair in their kitchen) and we spoke of the key role his ground game played in Virginia's blue sweep last month.  I truly hope that Democrats across the country replicate the ground game effort and send many Republicans into forced retirement. Here are highlights from the Washington Post on what hopefully will be Trump's disastrous efforts in 2018:
President Trump is not on the ballot in 2018, but the White House is planning a full-throttle campaign to plunge the president into the midterm elections, according to senior officials and advisers familiar with the planning. 
Trump’s political aides have met with 116 candidates for office in recent months, according to senior White House officials, seeking to become involved in Senate, House and gubernatorial races — and possibly contested Republican primaries as well.
The president  [Trump] has told advisers that he wants to travel extensively and hold rallies and that he is looking forward to spending much of 2018 campaigning. He has also told aides that the elections would largely determine what he can get done — and that he expects he would be blamed for losses, such as last week’s humiliating defeat that handed a Senate seat in Alabama to a Democrat for the first time in 25 years. 
But getting deeply involved in the midterms could be a highly risky strategy for a president with historically low approval ratings, now hovering in the mid- to low-30s in many national polls, and might be particularly disruptive in primary contests pitting establishment candidates against pro-Trump insurgents.
Many Democrats also say they relish the idea of being able to run against Trump.  “He absolutely is turbocharging the opposition. My guess is most of the people running for office in 2018 are not going to want to cleave too closely to him,” said David Axelrod, former president Barack Obama’s chief strategist. “He torques up both sides, but he torques up the opposition more. He is the greatest organizing tool that Democrats could have.”
Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the Democratic Governors’ Association, said “we look forward to everything that comes out of the president’s iPhone.” 
On Saturday, Trump’s campaign sent out a “2018 candidates” survey to supporters on issues including abortion, gun rights and Trump’s call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
But fundraising has been hurt in some quarters under Trump’s presidency, posing a financial challenge for a party increasingly spread thin in defending potentially vulnerable seats in the House and Senate. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, for example, has raised only about $2 million a month for the last four months and is spending more money than it is taking in.
There are other risks for Trump on the campaign trail. The president [Trump] frequently wanders off topic at rallies and often prefers to talk about himself, sometimes generating new controversies and making the candidate a sideshow at best. But the president can also draw a crowd like few other Republicans can.
Chris Ruddy, a longtime Trump friend, said the president needs to work to broaden his appeal ahead of the midterms. . . . . “He must move to the center. He must be the old Donald Trump — the bipartisan dealmaker who is looking for consensus.”
The president [Trump] is also unpredictable in following his political team’s advice. In Alabama, [White House political director] Stepien warned Trump not to endorse anyone, according to White House officials. He first backed establishment favorite Sen. Luther Strange in the primary, who was trounced by Moore. Then, Stepien and others urged him to shy away from Moore after the candidate faced allegations of sexual misconduct; Trump vocally supported him anyway.
Former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon remains another wild card as he pledges to continue backing anti-establishment candidates like Moore. 
Last week, defeated Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie — who was endorsed by Trump and attempted to reach Trump voters with incendiary positions on immigration and crime — said the political atmosphere was so “poisonous” that he would not recommend that other Republicans run for office. 
Democrats have been watching the Republican infighting from the sidelines with rising hope that Trump’s approach will play into their hands next year.  “They are mixing a very risky cocktail, where they are alienating suburban voters at the same time that they are motivating progressives and people of color,” said Joel Benenson, who served as the top pollster for Obama and continues to work on Democratic campaigns.
With the Republican tax cut package expected to pass in Congress this week, Stepien argued that the administration and Republicans have a marquee issue to sell despite its low approval among the public so far. 
“The president’s base is motivated and strong in every poll we see,” he said. “Off-year elections are all about turnout, and we believe the president’s base will be motivated to turn out.” 
But Steve Israel, who ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2012 and 2014, said there are many districts the president can’t touch and that he would be better off quietly raising money.
“Democrats have all the energy. They are on offense,” Israel said. “It’s very difficult for an unpopular president to move the needle in the other direction.” 

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