ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump’s midterm homestretch stump speech has evolved into a warning that Democratic control of one or both chambers will create a hellscape of rampant crime, high taxes and no safety net for older Americans.
Unless Democratic incumbents are ousted and Republican ones returned to Washington, Trump warns that cities large and small will be overrun by undocumented migrants committing crimes and draining government coffers. Democrats will raid programs such as Social Security that hard-working Americans have contributed to for decades to pay for all sorts of alleged “socialist” whims, he has said.
He has spoken of an opposition party that has a “lust for power” and has gone “crazy” and “loco,” saying all Democrats have “become totally unhinged.”
“The Democrats have become too extreme. And they’ve become, frankly, too dangerous to govern. They’ve gone wacko,” he said Tuesday night at a campaign rally in Iowa. “They’ve gone so far left that they consider ‘Pocahontas’ to be a rational person. No, it’s crazy.”
(He was using his derisive nickname for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whom he regularly pans for claiming Native American heritage.)
“They want to destroy everything,” he said of the Democrats on Tuesday. “Ours is to create.” But he didn’t stop there, declaring, “Democrats are the party of crime” and “Republicans are the party of safety.”
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He was back at it Wednesday night, this time during a campaign tour stop in Erie, Pennsylvania.
“The only reason to vote Democrat is if you’re tired of winning,” Trump told rallygoers after accusing the minority party of trying to implement “socialism.”
Will it work?
Republican and Democratic strategists have diverging takes on the potential for success of Trump’s new rhetoric, aimed at firing up the GOP base for a big turnout to turn the predicted wave a lighter shade of blue.
“The language that the president uses is sensible, because it frames the midterms not just as a referendum on him, but as a choice between the benefits of Republican majorities — lower taxes, more defense spending, fewer regulations, and the lowest unemployment rate since 1969 — and the perils of Washington Democrats’ far-left agenda,” said Michael Steel, who was a senior aide to former Speaker John A. Boehner. “It’s geared more towards turning out Trump supporter than appealing to moderates.”
But Democratic strategist Jim Manley said the president’s rhetoric over the last few days “has really jumped the shark into an unrecognizable level.”
“This is not the America that people recognize. … It may well get through to his base, but I don’t think it’s going to work this time,” he said. “It’s the politics of smear and fear. I really think it will cause Democrats to go vote in big numbers.”
Trump was in Erie to campaign for several Republican candidates, including Rep. Lou Barletta who is challenging Democratic incumbent Bob Casey for Senate. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Democratic.
He also stumped for Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, who faces Democrat Ron DiNicola in a Likely Republican race. Also getting a boost from Trump was Scott Wagner, the Pennsylvania GOP nominee for governor, as he seeks to gain late traction for an upset of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. Multiple polls, however, give the incumbent a double-digit lead less than a month from Election Day.
The last time Trump campaigned for Barletta, he referred to Casey as “Sleeping Bob” and “overrated.” On Wednesday, he accused the Democrat of “putting criminal aliens before American citizens.”
“How do you have such a liberal guy in the state of Pennsylvania?” Trump asked rallygoers, before dropping a reference to Casey’s late father, a former Pennsylvania governor. “Oh, he’s banking on the name of his father. That’s no good. Which is why he needs to be voted out of office.”