Dems: House GOP just like Trump

Dems: House GOP just like Trump
© Cameron Lancaster

House Democratic leaders are intensifying their message that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE and congressional Republicans are cut from the same cloth.

“What has happened in this campaign is that Donald Trump has pulled back the veil,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday during a press briefing in the Capitol. “What he says is what they say, and now people can see the connection between them.”

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Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, piled on, accusing the Republicans of “creating an environment of radicalism, fear and exclusion” that echoes in Trump’s message. 

“The presumptive nominee is the result of their work,” Hoyer charged. “And what they have sowed they are now reaping.”

The Democrats are sounding off in a week when new polls indicate that Trump and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll shows Biden, Warren tied with Trump in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Hickenlooper announces Senate bid MORE, the Democrats' likely nominee, are running neck and neck in a number of crucial battleground states, including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Another poll by Reuters released on Wednesday found Clinton just a point ahead of Trump.

Many political observers have cast Trump as a weak general election candidate who has alienated Hispanics and women, but the new polls cast some doubt on that analysis.

Pelosi on Wednesday downplayed the significance of those surveys by questioning their accuracy and methodology.

“I'm not a big fan of the polling that is going on. … It's tilted toward a person like me: white and older, rather than what the actual electorate will be,” she said.  

“I have no doubt that we will have a Democratic president.”

The presidential election will have a huge effect on congressional elections. Over the past few weeks, Democratic confidence has grown that they can make significant gains in the House if not retake the majority.

GOP criticism of Trump hit a highpoint last week when Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSoaring deficits could put Trump in a corner if there's a recession Paul Ryan moving family to Washington Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington MORE (Wis.), the highest-ranking Republican in Washington, took the extraordinary step of refusing to endorse Trump’s bid, citing concerns with the tenor of Trump's message as well as policy positions that run counter to Ryan's conservative leanings.

Trump is scheduled to huddle with Ryan and the Republicans on Thursday in Washington, where the leaders are hoping to begin a unification process as the primary season shifts to the general election.

Heading into that meeting, Pelosi and the Democrats criticized GOP leaders such as Ryan for criticizing Trump’s tone while ignoring or promoting similar statements from members of their own conference. 

“Since when have the House Republicans been so concerned about intolerant statements and discriminatory ideas?” Pelosi asked. 

“They appear to be shocked by their candidate … by their rhetoric on the campaign trail. But year after year, Republicans have enthusiastically turned their intolerance and their discrimination into legislation,” she added. “Whether it's insulting President Obama, women, immigrants, Muslims, LGBT Americans — there's not a dime's worth of difference between what Donald Trump says and what the House Republicans have been saying all along.”

The Democrats unveiled a video highlighting statements by rank-and-file members.

In one clip, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) claims that an overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants are drug smugglers “with calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”  

In another, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), former chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, says he “absolutely” promotes the universal surveillance of mosques and Muslim communities. 

Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona New Members 2019 Cook shifts 8 House races toward Dems Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership MORE (R-Ariz.) promotes his bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks by claiming that the “incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”

And Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertLouie Gohmert's exchange with Robert Mueller revealed an uneasy relationship Conservatives call on Pelosi to cancel August recess Mueller will be remembered for his weak testimony, not his shocking report MORE (R-Texas), in still another clip, decries the “fascist intolerance” of gay rights advocates, comparing them to Nazis.

Rep. Joe Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said such statements have given rise to Trump, and any Republicans lamenting their presumptive presidential nominee have only themselves to blame.

“Are they surprised that their presidential standard-bearer is saying the same thing that they've been saying consistently over the last five or six years they've been in the majority?” Crowley asked. 

Rep. Jim Clyburn (S.C.), the third-ranking House Democrat and a leading member of the Congressional Black Caucus, took the argument back much further, maintaining that Trump's bellicose message has roots in other Republican campaigns of decades past.

He cited Barry Goldwater's opposition to the Civil Rights Act, Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and Ronald Reagan's campaign speech outside Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights activists had been murdered by white supremacists in 1964.

"When you see this type of foundation being laid over time, I'm not surprised to see that Donald Trump has decided that this is the way to become president of the United States," Clyburn said.

Pelosi declined to guess Ryan's motives for withholding his endorsement, but she suggested they're more political than substantial.

“Unless the Republican leadership is going to be as … critical of their own members for what they say as they are of Donald Trump, it's all a show,” she said.

Pelosi struggled several times to get Trump's name off her tongue. She later revealed the reason.

“I keep thinking of him as Ronald McDonald,” she said, referring to the fast-food chain's clown mascot. “I don't know why.”