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GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows

GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows
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Republican lawmakers are seeking to project confidence after Democrats launched a formal impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE, painting the move as a political ploy that will help turn out its base in 2020. 

The display of bravado comes after Democrats have seized on allegations from a whistleblower that Trump sought to persuade Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE, the front-runner in the Democratic nomination.

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Republicans admit the allegations point to a potentially devastating picture for Trump at a time when he was headed to a tough reelection and at a time when Republicans are facing long odds of retaking the House and are defending more seats than Democrats are in the Senate.

But GOP lawmakers also believe they can use the Democratic impeachment push to rally Republican voters to their side — much like how Democrats defended former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonNever underestimate Joe Biden Joe Biden demonstrates public health approach will solve America's ills McAuliffe rising again in Virginia MORE when he was impeached and later acquitted by the Senate. 

Rep. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallSasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Bad jobs report amplifies GOP cries to end 0 benefits boost Fauci vs. Rogan: White House works to stomp out misinformation MORE (R-Kan.), who is running for an open Senate seat in Kansas, said impeachment will be seen as “very detrimental for the Democrats.”  

“I really think that actually just solidifies the president's victory. The people back home ... I've never seen them so fired up, and they're going to get out and vote and support this president. Big uptick and fundraising for the president, and for us as well,” he told The Hill. 

“Kansans want us to focus on solving problems. They're sick of this impeachment business. This is another witch hunt. This is the sequel to the Russian hoax. So I think it's going to motivate people, even independents and moderates are just fed up with all this infighting.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House GOP’s campaign arm, has ramped up its attacks on freshman Democrats who flipped seats during the midterms, sending dozens of emails this week, accusing them of  sparking "a constitutional crisis" and of "rabid" partisanship.

“New Jersey Democrats jumped on the crazy train with their Democrat colleagues obsessed with throwing our country into a constitutional crisis and it will cost them their seats in 2020," an email from the NRCC targeting New Jersey Democratic freshmen Reps. Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillGOP lawmakers request briefing on Democrats' claims of 'suspicious' Capitol tours before Jan. 6 Lawmakers question NCAA over 'disparate treatment' at women's championships NJ lawmakers ask Gannett to stop 'union-busting' efforts at 3 state newspapers MORE, Andy Kim and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiWashington's split with Turkey widens — but it is up to Turkey to heal the rift Democrats warn Waters censure move opens floodgates Overnight Defense: Top Pentagon nominee advances after Harris casts tie-breaker | Air Force general charged with sexual assault first to face court-martial | House passes bill to limit Saudi arms sales MORE said.

Republicans are also looking to portray Democrats as prioritizing impeachment over legislating on issues that matter to Americans such as health care.

“It seems like they're starting at impeachment and trying to backfill in some sort of reason after the fact, and it's going to cost them the majority in next November,” NRCC spokesman Chris Pack told The Hill. 

“I mean, we're just going to draw attention to the fact that all of these freshman Democrats ... they ran really as moderate Republicans, and now they're joining their impeachment obsessed base, which is going to tank their majority next November,” he added.

Pack also claimed Republicans had seen a surge in campaign contributions ever since House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden reverses Trump limits on transgender protections The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns This week: Congressional leaders to meet with Biden amid GOP reckoning MORE (D-Calif.) announced her support for the start of an impeachment inquiry on Tuesday.

Democrats, however, believe public opinion is already turning to their side — and that they will prevail in 2020 as long as they maintain a careful and measured approach to impeachment.

House Democrats have largely united behind impeachment, with 223 members now backing starting an inquiry.

Three recent polls showed a rise in support for impeachment after the allegations over Trump's call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, including a 10-point jump in the NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll and 12-point jump in the latest Hill-Harris X survey.

Democrats argue that Trump’s call with Zelensky will be seen by the American public as clear evidence that Trump tried to pressure his foreign counterpart into launching an investigation into Biden, as detailed in a memo released by the White House this week.

“This is a very simple story that Americans get,” Michael Gordon, a Democratic strategist and principal at Group Gordon, told The Hill. “Americans understand what the president did wrong and agree what he did was wrong.” 

“With that said, the Democrats need to be judicious and thoughtful as they approach it, so that way they can bring more of the country along with them.” 

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However, impeachment is seen as holding perils for both parties.

Democrats are mindful they could be seen as overplaying their hand and worry impeachment could overwhelm issues such as improving health care that helped them win the House in 2018 and that they were hoping to use again in 2020.

It was a message that Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s head Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Democrat Cheri Bustos to retire from Congress GOP campaign chief confident his party will win back House MORE (D-Ill.)  sought to convey.

“As the Intelligence Committee investigates this sad chapter in our nation’s history, I call on my colleagues in their critical roles to keep their focus on the important work at hand to bring down the cost of health care, rebuild America’s infrastructure and reinvigorate the American dream for families in every corner of our country,” Bustos said. 

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE reflected a similar sentiment in a statement. 

“Democrats are fighting day in and day out to expand access to health care, raise wages, help the American worker, and uphold the rule of law,” Perez said. 

But Republicans acknowledge they are on the defensive, especially as House Democrats step up their investigation of the allegations.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo on CIA recruitment: We can't risk national security to appease 'liberal, woke agenda' DNC gathers opposition research on over 20 potential GOP presidential candidates Dozens of scientists call for deeper investigation into origins of COVID-19, including the lab theory MORE for documents relating to the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine, indicating Democrats are wasting no time diving into the formal impeachment inquiry.

“I think it's too early to tell — I think anybody who tells you they know how it's going to play out for House races is a way ahead of themselves,” Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThe Hill's Morning Report - Census winners and losers; House GOP huddles Ohio sets special election to replace retiring Rep. Steve Stivers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict MORE (R-Ohio), who previously served as the chairman of the NRCC, told The Hill. 

"I think we all need to take a deep breath and see what happens here," he added. “It would be easy to see the Democrats overplaying their hand, and they already seem to be moving that direction, but I'm not ready to say that's definitely how it plays out yet.”