Mar 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: GOP group privately warns against all-in Biden attacks

This is Joe Biden

President Biden walks to the White House after landing on the South Lawn on Sunday. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A Republican Party committee is privately warning its candidates that just hitting President Biden will be "insufficient" to win in November, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The GOP's top fundraising committee for state-level leaders argued that Biden doesn't hurt candidates down ballot in the way some presidents have in the past.

  • "Steer clear of making the election a singular referendum on Joe Biden," wrote Dee Duncan, the president of the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).
  • The memo advised against using Biden "as your crutch" and said campaigns need to make an affirmative case for GOP policies.

Between the lines: Duncan argued that Biden-bashing without a clearer policy argument is why Republicans underperformed in the 2022 midterms.

  • "We must learn from the missteps of the 2022 cycle and not solely target Joe Biden in our campaign messaging," he wrote.

Driving the news: Citing an internal poll from the committee's affiliated 501c4 policy group, Duncan wrote that "voters are only 46% less likely to support a state legislative candidate who supports Joe Biden for president."

  • Duncan also advised Republicans how to navigate IVF procedures following the political backlash the past month in response to an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that has paused IVF treatments across the state.
  • "Voters are 58% more likely to support a candidate that voted for commonsense protections for doctors and fertility clinics who assist patients and families in having children," Duncan wrote.

The RSLC argued that the Democratic Party's focus on preserving abortion rights and democracy was not enough to overcome voter concerns about the economy, crime and illegal immigration.

  • Their internal poll showed that far fewer voters said abortion rights and democracy were their top concerns.

The big picture: It's unclear whether former President Trump or Republican candidates for Congress will follow the RSLC's approach to Biden.

  • Trump's campaign has laid out a comprehensive policy agenda but has largely focused on trying to make his campaign a referendum on Biden, given the president's low approval ratings.
  • But the RSLC's polling shows that it's trickier for down-ballot Republicans, because Biden does not appear to be as polarizing or mobilizing a figure.

What they're saying: Abhi Rahman, the communications director for the RSLC's Democratic Party counterpart, told Axios: "Nearly every Republican down ballot running for office is a MAGA Trump Republican."

  • He added: "The Republican Party has lost virtually every major election since Trump's takeover."
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