Dems plot recess message to draw contrast with GOP

Dems plot recess message to draw contrast with GOP
© Greg Nash
House Democrats on Wednesday laid out their messaging strategy for the long August recess in a bid to build political momentum heading into the high-stakes policy fights that wait beyond.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
The Democrats want to highlight the sharp differences between themselves and the Republicans on prominent issues like immigration reform, voting rights, infrastructure spending and college affordability –– issues where the Democrats feel they hold a clear edge with voters.
 
By stressing the partisan contrasts, the Democrats hope not only to promote their own legislative agenda, but also to score a few political points by painting the GOP as a party that's out-of-touch with most of America.
 
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.), who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said the underlying message is that the Republicans are squandering their congressional power by prioritizing corporate interests at the expense of the middle class.
 
With end-of-the-year battles looming over highway spending, a debt ceiling increase, the export-import bank and government funding to prevent a shutdown, the Democrats hope  their message will not only give them the leverage of public backing in those fights, but also will resound with voters heading into the 2016 elections.
 
"The DCCC will have a record number of staffers on the ground in August and will make the case locally that Republicans and their misguided priorities are failing hardworking Americans across the country," Lujan said in an email.
 
“We also discussed the beginnings of the DCCC’s plans to harness long-term electoral trends that will benefit House Democrats in 2016 and beyond," he added. "This includes a focus on analyzing trends in migration, age and ethnicity and developing innovative, data-driven campaigns to leverage those trends and maximize victories in 2016." 
 
The Democrats also intend to call attention to the GOP 2016 presidential primary contest –– a "circus," in the words of a DCCC aide, that "continues to damage the national Republican brand."
 
"In each district, this provides opportunities to tie House Republicans to the deeply divisive and alienating priorities that are taking center stage," the aide said.
 
Lujan was joined by Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. Israel3D-printable guns will require us to rethink our approach on gun safety The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown Can we trust polls in 2020? MORE (N.Y.), the Democrats' messaging chief, to outline the party's recess strategy to rank-and-file members on Wednesday –– the same day the House is scheduled to recess for a five-week vacation. 
 
House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico This week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Schumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter to her troops earlier in the week adding another beat to the August message: Go after Republicans, she suggested, for leaving town with so many big issues left unresolved.
 
"It is outrageous that Republicans plan to begin the August recess early, with so many critical issues still needing to be addressed," she wrote. "I urge you to join in drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans’ continued indifference to the priorities of hard-working American families." 
 
The Democrats have their work cut out for them, as House Republicans hold a 58-seat advantage in the lower chamber -- their largest majority since the Hoover administration -- leaving the Democrats with the enormous task of picking up 30 seats to win back the Speaker's gavel. 
 
Most election handicappers consider that figure unattainable, especially after Republican re-districting efforts in 2010 put many seats out of reach.
 
But Democratic leaders think their focus on core issues like an immigration overhaul, women's rights, student loan forgiveness and a hike in the minimum wage will reverberate with voters.
 
All of those issues favor the Democrats in national opinion surveys, but that popular support hasn't translated into much success for the party at the polls in recent years.
 
The Democrats hope the 2016 presidential cycle yields different results. 
 
"Political dysfunction is one thing, but this dysfunction is actually costing the American people," Israel said. "It's hitting them in their pocketbooks. It's costing them more delays on highways, it's costing them higher bills in colleges. It's not just the fact that these are partisan delays by the Republicans, it's that these partisan delays and this inaction has become very costly to hardworking Americans. 
 
"And House Democrats," he added, "will be making those points and pointing to our specific alternatives and contrasts during the month of August."