Sep 16, 2019

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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Nancy Pelosi's next target: Mitch McConnell

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will escalate her caucus' anti-Mitch McConnell messaging this fall, testing a theory that this can be more effective than just continuing the party's anti-Trump rhetoric, Democratic leadership aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Democrats are still divided over how much to focus on President Trump ahead of the 2020 elections — and they're aware that "Trump fatigue" could mean that their attacks will bring diminishing returns.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 16, 2019

Pelosi's point of no return

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Although they still talk about it on-camera as an inquiry, some top House Democrats see the actual impeachment of President Trump as increasingly inevitable.

  • Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), reflecting the views of several members we talked to, said he thinks impeachment will happen by the end of 2019: "My hope is it is expeditious. I don't want the clock to run out."
Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 29, 2019

Mitch McConnell: Impeachment will fail with me as Senate majority leader

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a new Facebook ad that impeachment will fail under his leadership, despite acknowledging last week that he would hold a trial if the House approves articles of impeachment against President Trump.

"Nancy Pelosi's in the clutches of a left-wing mob. They finally convinced her to impeach the president. All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader."
Go deeperArrowOct 6, 2019