Sep 8, 2019

Inside Democrats' 2020 Trump war room

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The DNC research team has mined thousands of lawsuits from nearly 50 states as part of a massive new trove on President Trump that will be weaponized through pols and reporters in key battlegrounds.

Why it matters: This new plan shows what Democrats think Trump's biggest vulnerabilities will be. And unlike in 2016, Trump now has a policy record.

Details: The research includes roughly 7,000 lawsuits, as well an extensive document detailing every time then-candidate Trump told supporters at his 2016 campaign rallies that Mexico would pay for the wall.

  • A source familiar said this document will likely find its way to local reporters, groups and Democrats in battleground states as Trump diverts funds from the military to pay for his border wall.
  • The DNC has examples of what farmers and truckers say they feel about Trump's tariffs, the way he's "trashed American wheat," and how the GOP tax law hurt truckers.
  • They've combed through local news articles and monitored local cable interviews with residents in states like Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Texas to find these folks who are being hurt by Trump’s policies.
  • And they've already filed "thousands" of Freedom of Information Act requests to get even more info on the president.

The big picture: Using Trump's specific actions and broken promises is how DNC chairman Tom Perez is advising party officials and surrogates to define him in states he won in 2016 that they think are crucial to their 2020 election efforts.

At a meeting last week with about 20 Democratic operatives and strategists, Perez said the plan is to "make it about [Trump's] performance as president, not his bigotry or awfulness," according to one source in the room. "Prosecute the case that he is bad at his job and it is hurting people in real ways."

  • Democrats can point to "so many ways his actual policies have really hurt people or how he’s been ineffective in fulfilling his promises," said one Democrat familiar with the DNC's plans to define Trump in 2020.
  • "Let’s say he goes to Youngstown, Ohio. We have everything he said, what he promised in 2016 to that community — maybe it’s 'that bridge will be fixed' — then we’ll show what’s actually happened since."

Go deeper: Trump allies raise money to target reporters at top media outlets

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