Clyburn: 'Defund the police' slogan hurt Democratic candidates

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Sunday that the “defund the police” slogan hurt Democratic candidates in the recent election. 

Clyburn told NBC News’s “Meet the Press” that he didn’t know if the slogan “cost all the seats” Democrats lost but noted he “really believes that’s what cost” Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamWe lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Coalition of 7 conservative House Republicans says they won't challenge election results MORE (D-S.C.) his seat to Rep.-elect Nancy Mace (R-S.C.). 

The majority whip also attributed Democrat Jaime Harrison’s loss to the phrase, saying “that stuff hurt” him in his race against Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate presses Biden's pick for secretary of State on Iran, China, Russia and Yemen GOP senator questions constitutionality of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office Graham pushes Schumer for vote to dismiss impeachment article MORE (R-S.C.). 

That's why I spoke out against it a long time ago,” Clyburn said. “I've always said that these headlines can kill a political effort.”

“We are all about making headway, and I just hope that going forward we will think about each one of these Congressional districts and let people represent their districts,” he added. 

The "defund the police" slogan caught on over the summer after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Floyd's death after an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. 

Progressives proposed the policy amid the unrest, suggesting that funding for police should be redistributed to social programs to help minority communities and address the root causes of crime. 

But Republican candidates latched on to the proposal and tied their Democratic competitors to the slogan, although some of the candidates did not support the movement. 

Though Democrats kept control of the House, they lost a number of seats. The underwhelming performance for Democrats prompted a brewing blame game between moderates and progressives.

President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE and his campaign repeatedly accused President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia MORE of backing “defund the police,” despite the former vice president’s open rejection of the policy.