Republican leaders and conservative commentators are warning GOP voters that if Democrats take back the House, it will usher in a new era of liberal committee chairmen hell-bent on destroying the Trump presidency.
Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight Pelosi won't say if she'll run for reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) is still the star of many GOP attack ads this fall, but Republicans are also taking aim at a handful of new targets: Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersWhich proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? House Democrats scramble to save housing as Biden eyes cuts Toomey takes aim at Schumer's spending windfall for NYC public housing MORE (Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (Md.) and other top Democrats poised to take control of key committees with broad subpoena and investigative powers.
The line of attack is intended to inflame the conservative base, raise cash and drive GOP voters to the polls in an effort to save the Republican House majority on Nov. 6.
"Nancy Pelosi is an easy foil for Republicans, and her poll numbers reflect that," said a House GOP aide. “But for single-issue voters out there, it's just as concerning when they learn that a House controlled by Democrats could mean cuts to defense spending or there will be new committee chairs who want to make the president's life miserable.”
"It can definitely be a motivator for our base down the stretch," the aide added.
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.) and his campaign team have been traveling the country warning GOP donors about who the incoming Democratic chairmen would be and how they would undermine the GOP agenda of a robust military, lower taxes and fewer regulations.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyRepublican spin on Biden is off the mark Cheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress MORE (R-Calif.), who is vying to be the next Speaker when Ryan retires in early January, has been sounding the alarm about Waters’s fiery rhetoric calling on Democrats to confront and “push back” on Trump administration officials in public.
“That means if they were to win the majority, [Waters] would be the chair of Financial Services, one who asked people to actually cause problems for other individuals. It's the opposite of what we expect from our elected officials,” McCarthy said on Fox News. “That's why this November is so important to make a fundamental difference and not let the Democrats take over.”
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel singled out Waters and Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffAll eyes on Garland after Bannon contempt vote House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Manchin heatedly dismisses rumors of leaving Democratic Party MORE (D-Calif.), who is poised to become Intelligence Committee chairman, saying in a tweet that they want to “ruthlessly go after [President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE] if they win.”
“Their baseless efforts to impeach & investigate aren’t just an attack on the president, they’re an assault on all the progress our country has made,” she tweeted.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham this week displayed a faux movie poster featuring images of the would-be Democratic leaders with the title: “Meet the Chairmen,” a play on the “Meet the Parents” flick.
Ingraham played a clip of Waters chanting, “Impeach 45,” a reference to Trump, and another clip of Nadler, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, threatening to launch a perjury investigation into newly seated Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLocked and Loaded: Supreme Court is ready for a showdown on the Second Amendment Why Latinos need Supreme Court reform Feehery: A Republican Congress is needed to fight left's slide to autocracy MORE if Democrats prevail on Election Day.
“For the MSNBC crowd, it’s like Christmas morning. But for America, it would be a nightmare we cannot let become reality,” Ingraham said on her show. “If this band of liberal misfits and radicals take the reins of power in the House come November, it will be scarier than Halloween. And the trick will be on the American people, and the treat will be given to someone else.”
Anti-Pelosi messaging has long been a staple of House Republicans' campaign strategy. Ever since she rose to prominence more than a decade ago, Republicans have portrayed her as a big-government, San Francisco liberal who would drag the Democratic Party — and the country — into socialism.
But with a number of Democrats vowing not to support Pelosi for Speaker if they win back the House, Republicans have been experimenting with a different approach.
Rank-and-file Republicans are taking their cue from GOP leadership and going after the top committee Democrats on the campaign trail and in debates. Vulnerable GOP Rep. Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusConor Lamb defeats Trump-backed challenger for reelection in Pennsylvania CNN's Tapper tried to talk GOP candidate out of running against Democratic incumbent: report Lobbying world MORE, who is facing off against centrist Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb following redistricting in Pennsylvania, argued that having Waters and Nadler as chairmen could lead to impeachment proceedings and more investigations into sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.
Rothfus said during a televised debate this week that Waters has “been all over this country preaching the message of impeachment,” and that “there are other Democrats” doing the same thing.
“We would have endless investigations,” he added.
Liz Mair, a political strategist and former online communications director for the RNC, suggested the strategy of targeting ranking members is likely more effective with donors than voters, noting committee members generally don't have high name recognition with most Americans.
"Obviously if you look at these latest numbers it's pretty clear that Republicans have a fundraising problem relative to Democrats — we're not keeping pace," Mair told The Hill in an interview. "The people who really pay attention to who's committee chair and who is setting the agenda on various items, they're the big donor industries."
To that point, Team Ryan has been circulating the list of potential Democratic committee chairs as they meet with donors around the country. A Democratic-controlled House, they warn, would be detrimental to carrying out the GOP’s agenda.
“DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN,” the bottom of the memo reads.