House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s final pitch to voters on Tuesday as they hit the polls centered on one issue: health care.
“This election is about health care,” the California Democrat said at a news conference alongside Democratic House Campaign Committee chairman Ben Ray Luján.
It was a pitch two years in the making.
The day after President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, Pelosi said, Democrats “didn’t agonize, we organized. We went to work and said, ‘How do we protect the Affordable Care Act?’”
In 2017, Democrats voted “100 percent” against the House GOP’s repeal of the 2010 health care law, Pelosi said.
The GOP passed its replacement bill anyway. It was stopped in the Senate by one vote.
But House Democrats decided early on in the 2018 cycle to center their messaging on protecting a law whose prospective repeal drove millions of Republicans to the polls in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 for a GOP House majority.
“We made our own environment to make sure people knew the difference between Democrats and Republicans” on health care, Pelosi said.
Luján and Pelosi expressed confidence that Democrats would pick up enough seats in the House — they need 23 — to win back a majority they have not held since the 2010 GOP wave.
“The rain is not scaring anyone away,” Luján said, citing reports of long lines in battleground districts across the river in Virginia and elsewhere.
Pelosi would not entertain the possibility of Democrats failing to gain a majority when pressed by a reporter whether Democrats had considered all contingencies.
On the Republican side, their final pitch has been fractured at the top, with President Donald Trump harping on illegal immigration and the potential national security threats stemming from a pair of caravans of Central American immigrants still weeks away from reaching the southern border.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan had urged the president to remain focused on the nation’s strong economy. GDP growth is steady and unemployment is at an historic low. But Trump used a six-day, eight-state, 11-rally barnstorming tour to close out the midterms campaign season, fanning partisan flames over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.
And he lamented the negative political consequences for Republicans right before the midterms of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting where a gunman slaughtered 11 Jews and a Florida man’s arrest for sending unexploded pipe bombs to at least 10 of the president’s Democratic rivals.
Pelosi previews legislative priorities of a Democratic House
Pelosi indicated Tuesday, as she has in the months leading up to the election, that the first order of business for a Democrat-controlled House would be a bipartisan good-government bill aimed at rooting out the influence of dark money and special interest groups from Washington politics.
“When people believe that there will be integrity of government, that you reduce the role of special interests and money,” Pelosi said, “they believe then that we can make a difference, that we can pass gun safety because we’re not dominated by NRA money, that we can pass environmental protections because we’re not dominated by industry money in that regard.”
Concerns about voter suppression
Luján and Pelosi urged voters in districts with checkered pasts regarding alleged voter suppression to not stay home or or ditch the line when it becomes too long.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has deployed personnel to monitor polling places in 35 counties across 19 states, including key jurisdictions in Texas, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, North Dakota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania where voter turnout could well decide which party obtains a majority in the Senate.
“Do not let their scare tactics frighten you away from the polls,” Pelosi said of Democratic opponents, though she did not cite any specific examples or reports of such tactics being used on Tuesday.
Luján said he is “confident” in the integrity of the midterm elections Tuesday.
“We have robust legal strategy to make sure that we’re protecting” voting rights in every district, Luján said.
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