Divided Dems Unite After Trump Tells Congresswomen To 'Go Back' To Other Countries

President Donald Trump defended his volatile tweets suggesting progressive Democratic congresswomen “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” Monday, as some observers questioned why he drew attention away from Democrats’ escalating internal conflicts and others saw a shrewd political strategy emerging.

“They hate our country,” Trump said of the lawmakers during a Made in America event at the White House. “They hate it, I think, with a passion. Now, it's possible I'm wrong. The voter will decide. But when I hear the way they talk about our country, when I hear the anti-Semitic language they use, when I hear the hatred they have for Israel, and the love they have for enemies like al-Qaida-- then you know what? I will tell you that I do not believe this is good for the Democrat Party.”

Trump declined to identify which members he was talking about in his Sunday morning tweets, other than Rep. Ilhan Omar, but he appeared to be referring to the freshman Democrats known as “the Squad”: Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. Amid Democratic anger, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the House would vote on a resolution denouncing Trump’s tweets.

The speaker’s aggressive support for the lawmakers illustrated how far the Democratic Party has come in 48 hours. As of Saturday night, infighting between the party establishment and progressive upstarts was nearing a breaking point.

According to Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, Trump could have benefited from letting the Democratic drama play out in the press a bit longer before inserting himself into the fight.

“They called the speaker of the House a racist,” O’Connell said. “I don’t know how much further they can go before they start knifing one another.”

Strategists say Trump’s tweets may have temporarily mended the rift in the Democratic Party, but the division on policy and politics remains and will surely surface again before the 2020 election.

“I don’t think they’re going to band together for 19 months because of some tweets Trump posted last night,” O’Connell said.

Internal polling leaked to Axios provides insight into why defending “the Squad” makes some Democrats nervous. A survey of white, non-college-educated voters in swing districts found 74% know who Ocasio-Cortez is and only 22% view her favorably. Omar’s numbers are even worse, with 53% recognizing her and 9% having a positive opinion of her.

“I do see the genius of the long-term strategy for Trump,” O’Connell said. “He’s trying to make AOC, Omar and the rest of ‘the Squad’ the face of Democrats in 2020.”

Even some Republicans who have spoken out against Trump’s tweets have also noted their objection to the views of “the Squad” in their statements. As Democrats fight among themselves to decide who will run against Trump in 2020, O’Connell expects Trump to continue pressing the narrative that these women who are deeply unpopular with swing voters represent the direction of the opposing party.

“Trump doesn’t know who the nominee’s going to be. This way, he’s got a placeholder to make sure everyone is focused on exactly what it is the Democrats are pushing,” he said.

Read more from Stephen Loiaconi at ABC 6

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Analysis & Political Strategy