Sep 16, 2019 - Politics & Policy

The 3 villains of Democrats' 2020 plan

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

Democrats plan to portray President Trump, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as the three villains defining the three branches of government for the 2020 campaign.

Why it matters: Each of these white men, they will argue, symbolizes Republican corruption and rule-bending.

The three targets are already apparent:

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told advisers it's hard to move the public mood on Trump alone — and will urge her caucus to crank up anti-McConnell attacks, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.
  • At least six 2020 candidates — Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker, Beto O'Rourke and Julián Castro — yesterday called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment after the N.Y. Times published "new information about allegations of sexual misconduct against him." Democratic strategists are eager to revive #MeToo concerns as one way to rally female voters.
  • Trump, of course, will be the central target, and several campaigns are trying to follow the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris approach of focusing on the president as much as their rivals. 

Pelosi's coming focus on McConnell emerged from Democratic divisions over how to run against the president, plus their fears that "Trump fatigue" could give their attacks diminishing returns.

  • Pelosi has relentlessly reminded Democrats that the party regained the House majority in 2018 by focusing on issues (particularly health care), not by bashing Trump.
  • She's still cautioning against impeachment, even though the majority of the caucus now supports an inquiry.

Between the lines: Pelosi believes there's a ceiling on how much the party can shift public opinion on Trump, aides say, noting that his approval rating has remained steady.

  • But demonizing McConnell "is something even the more moderate Democrats can glom onto," one aide said: "He's seen as the face of obstruction and Trump’s enabler."

Go deeper: Inside Democrats' 2020 Trump war room

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