Mar 28, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House GOP misses "Fire Pelosi" on 2024 campaign trail

Illustration of Nancy Pelosi's hair, jewelry and suit with the rest of her missing

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty

Lacking the reliable boogeyman of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi to fundraise against, House Republicans are choosing to focus on President Biden.

Why it matters: "Fire Pelosi" was a central component of Republican's messaging strategy in previous cycles. But top House Republicans don't see that script playing out with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in 2024.

  • "He's not shown that type of lightning rod negativity," House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) told Axios.
  • "I think some of these members, and maybe this is Nancy's issue, they get to a certain age and they just get very caustic."
  • "Like Nancy, he's [Biden] more yell at you, scream, tells you how tough he is, and gets very hyperpartisan. I haven't seen Hakeem do that — he can, but I think he's been more constructive," Emmer added.

Zoom in: Multiple sources noted that Pelosi's name recognition and extensive time in Congress made her an easier target.

  • Jeffries has yet to serve as speaker and keeps a lower profile.
  • He has previously spoken out against "hard-left democratic socialism," making it more difficult for the GOP to paint him as an extremist.

The bottom line: A recent American Action Network survey of 84 congressional districts showed 40% of voters had not heard of Jeffries, one source told Axios.

  • "Jeffries is just largely irrelevant in the eyes of voters at this point," Congressional Leadership Fund president Dan Conston told Axios.
  • "Our fundraising is really not focused on the boogeyman of the Democrat leader. We're focused on what we're wanting to accomplish, who our candidates are," said NRCC Chairman Richard Hudson (R-N.C.).
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