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 Cunningham'Blue wave' Democrats eye comebacks after losing reelection Top cyber Pentagon official overseeing defense contractor project placed on leave Joe Cunningham to enter race for South Carolina governor 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 GrahamA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products 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 TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups MORE and his campaign repeatedly accused President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE of backing “defund the police,” despite the former vice president’s open rejection of the policy.