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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are flirting with socialism in ways they carefully and clearly ran away from in the past, handing President Trump a new way to unify Republicans — and to club his opponents.

  • It started with Democrats sitting silently as he railed against socialism in his State of the Union speech.
  • It intensified with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's release of a Green New Deal, a vague policy manifesto loaded with big-government policies.
  • The surge is unlikely to abate: Young, Twitter- and social-savvy Democrats favor socialism over capitalism. And no Democrat in politics today plays the social media game with more savvy than AOC. 

The White House, the Trump campaign — and the outside political advisers in Trump’s orbit — seem to be universally excited by the Green New Deal and many Democrats' embrace of socialism.

  • They've been far more optimistic about Trump's re-election chances this week than Swan has heard since the early days of Trump’s presidency.
  • And they're thrilled that so many of Trump’s potential 2020 opponents are endorsing the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal calls for a World War II-level mobilization to put the U.S. on an aggressive pathway toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero, Axios' Ben Geman reports.

  • "Upgrading all existing buildings in the U.S. and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency."'
  • Working with farmers and ranchers "to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions ... as much as is technologically feasible."
  • "Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States."

Andy Surabian, Republican strategist and former White House official, told Axios: "I think you’re gonna see Republicans start pointing out that the people who will be affected by this plan won’t be billionaires or rich people. It’s the middle, lower classes and poverty stricken areas of America."

  • "The only people who can afford to be environmentalists are billionaires."

Global warming, however, punishes the world's poorest — "hotter, drier and hungrier," as the N.Y. Times puts it.

Amy Harder asked Ocasio-Cortez whether her proposal feeds into Trump's claims about socialism. AOC replied:

  • "I find this hilarious, because this president seeks to expand government into the bodies of women. They seek to expand government to spontaneously generate detention centers all along our southern border."
  • "So this is not about who's expanding government. It’s about who we're working for, and we're choosing to work for the people of the United States." 

Marty Obst, senior political adviser to Vice President Pence: "While the President and Vice President support the Venezuelan people's struggle for freedom, the Democratic Party continues its lurch toward socialism."

  • "I would envision that the campaign will highlight the stark differences between the two parties on this policy among many others."

Be smart: Obst's quote is a signal that Pence and the political operation that surrounds him — which will play an important role in the Trump re-elect — plan to make Democratic socialism one of their main lines of attack.

Go deeper: The fight Trump and AOC both want in 2020

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Go deeper

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

Updated 50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.