Schumer's strategy: Tie GOP in 2012 to rising Tea Party unpopularity

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerHow Trump can score a big league bipartisan win on infrastructure Overnight Finance: Dems introduce minimum wage bill | Sanders clashes with Trump budget chief | Border tax proposal at death's door GOP senators distance themselves from House ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (D-N.Y.) is pinning Democrats’ hopes for keeping their Senate majority on a strategy that would tie the GOP to the Tea Party, which has dropped in popularity.

Schumer, who as chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee has responsibility for the Senate Democrats' messaging strategy, unveiled his 2012 campaign plans at a Wednesday breakfast hosted by Third Way, a Democratic think tank.

Schumer believes the Tea Party, which lost support after forcing a July showdown over the debt limit, could be the GOP’s Achilles' heel next year.

“By linking the GOP to its extreme Tea Party fringe, Democrats can bolster the prospects or the president’s jobs ideas, or at least make clear who is responsible for the stalling of the recovery,” Schumer wrote in a memo to “interested parties.”

Schumer argues Democrats can make this link by “branding the school of thought that resists against any job-creation measures as ‘Tea Party economics.’ ”

He says, “The opponents of the president’s jobs proposals should be invoked as ‘Tea Party Republicans.’

“If their obstruction continues, it will risk a ‘Tea Party recession,’ ” he added.

Schumer, and Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidGOP frustrated by slow pace of Trump staffing This week: Congress awaits Comey testimony Will Republicans grow a spine and restore democracy? MORE (D-Nev.), pursued a similar strategy during the government shutdown fight in April and the summer's debt-limit standoff.

He believes the strategy was effective and he plans to ramp it up to campaign-season pitch over the next several weeks.

Public polling shows the Tea Party has steadily lost support over the past year. Schumer cited tracking polls by The New York Times and CBS News showing the Tea Party’s unpopularity rating swelling from around 25 percent at the beginning of the year to near 40 percent last month.

Survey data published by CNN and NBC News and The Wall Street Journal showed similar trends.

“These numbers show Tea Party Republicans are more vulnerable than ever to the argument that their policies, as well as tactics, are hurting the economy,” Schumer claimed.

Schumer’s battle plans appear to belie his simultaneous effort to mend relations with Senate Republicans. 

Schumer negotiated with Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderOvernight Regulation: Appeals court upholds injunction on Trump travel ban | GOP bill would scrap 'micro-unions' Republicans introduce bill to scrap 'micro-unions' Overnight Healthcare: CBO fallout | GOP senators distance themselves from House bill | Trump budget chief blasts score | Schumer says House bill belongs 'in the trash' MORE (Tenn.) at the start of the year to implement a friendly understanding to allow more of President Obama’s nominees to win Senate confirmation without formal votes.

Last week, Schumer proposed a bipartisan meeting to give Democratic and Republican leaders a chance to work out their differences.

“We need a little bit of a cooling-off period,” Schumer said.

He asked Reid if he would be “willing to sit down with the minority leader and others in an effort to try and figure out how we can get back to somewhat more of a regular order.”

If Republicans fail to respond to these overtures by supporting Obama's agenda, Schumer is ready to launch a full-scale political attack.