Trump Steps Up Campaign-Style Attacks On Biden

Former President Donald Trump is increasingly taking aim at his successor, President Joe Biden, with a series of blistering criticisms reminiscent of last year’s campaign as the 45th president teases another run.

Trump has issued a series of statements, his substitute for Twitter, from which he was banished over his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, challenging Biden’s policy decisions and circulating articles that are similarly critical of the White House’s new resident. He also appeared on Sean Hannity’s prime-time Fox News show on Monday night to take his case directly to the voters.

"While former President Trump is maintaining a laser-like focus on helping Republicans take back power in Washington and across the country in 2022, he is also keeping tabs on the follies of the Biden administration,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “And at a time when the country needs to vaccinate as many Americans as possible as quickly as possible, Trump is correct that the Biden administration’s decision to halt distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a self-defeating head-scratcher that will only lead to greater skepticism about COVID jabs among the general population.”

Known for his marketing instincts, Trump also objected to the symbolism of the 9/11 date. “September 11th represents a very sad event and period for our Country and should remain a day of reflection and remembrance honoring those great souls we lost,” he said. “Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do.” O’Connell called Biden’s choice of date “flat tone-deaf."

“Donald Trump may be out of the White House, but he is the unquestioned leader of the Republican Party and the one person who can lead the GOP back to majorities in Washington next year, despite repeated attempts by Big Tech, the Democrats, and corporate media to silence his every word,” O’Connell said. “And should Trump choose to run for the White House in 2024, he will be the Republican Party presidential nominee."

Read more from W. James Antle III at the Washington Examiner

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Democrats Brace For New 'Defund The Police' Attacks

Democrats are bracing for another round of calls to “defund the police” even as a bitter debate continues to rage within the party about whether the slogan hurt them in the 2020 elections.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial in the death of George Floyd, coupled with a fatal shooting this week of a 20-year-old Black man by police during a routine traffic stop just miles from the courthouse, has renewed frustration over a lack of progress toward ending such killings.

Republicans believe the defund the police narrative is a political gift they can use again to win over swing voters and to energize their own political base.

“This is music to the Republican minority’s ears in Washington,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “That is more powerful for Republicans than any perfectly scripted message.”

Polling shows that stripping funds from law enforcement is by no means popular nationwide, with a recent USA Today-Ipsos poll showing that only 1 in 5 Americans support the movement to defund the police.

Read more from Julia Manchester at The Hill

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Is DeSantis 'out of touch' with business on vaccine passport ban?

A top legal expert at the World Health Organization pulled no punches this week when he called out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for an April 2 executive order prohibiting vaccine passports. 

So-called vaccine passports are identification cards proving one has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In addition to preventing businesses from using them as a tool to help protect the health of workers and customers, Gostin said, the governor’s executive order is “very likely unlawful."

That said, one GOP strategist said the governor is not alone in his opposition to vaccine passports. In fact, it is representative of the views of many of his supporters, said Ford O’Connell. 

“What DeSantis sees here is what many conservatives do — that COVID vaccine passports are an all-out assault on freedom and the Constitution,” O’Connell said. “They are concerned that vaccine passports are about keeping tabs on your data and medical history, and they see this as the largest expansion of  surveillance since the Patriot Act.”

While a proof of vaccination card displays a person’s name, birthdate and COVID vaccination information, vaccine passports are digitally coded cards that utilize a scannable symbol. O’Connell said contained within that scan might be personal information besides COVID vaccination records, and that is what worries some people. 

Read more Wendy Rhodes at The Palm Beach Post

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Trump Faces Test Of Power With Early Endorsements

Former President Trump’s endorsements pose a test for him ahead of 2022 as he looks to flex his political muscle after leaving office.

The former president has thrown support behind conservative figures who have been particularly loyal to him, including Rep. Mo Brooks (R), who is running for Senate in Alabama, and former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is running for governor of Arkansas.

Trump made his latest endorsements on Thursday, formally throwing his support behind one of his staunchest defenders, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — who has yet to formally announce whether he is running for reelection — as well as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). 

Many Republican candidates have taken note of Trump’s continued influence in the party as they launch their own bids.

Other races Trump has yet to endorse in include the Republican gubernatorial convention in Virginia, where most of the candidates in the field have tied themselves closely to the former president.

“It’s not clear at this juncture who the best candidate is,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “It’s going to be a race that is won and lost on issues that are particularly specific to the commonwealth of Virginia.”

The former president notably endorsed Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) in his primary challenge against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) following a months-long feud with Raffensperger and other senior Georgia Republicans over election fraud claims.

“He’s making it known that it’s time to make some changes in Georgia,” O’Connell said of Trump. “I promise you, the [Republican] grassroots are going to agree with that.”

Read more from Julia Manchester at The Hill

 

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Republican Battle With MLB Intensifies

Republicans are spoiling for a high-profile fight with MLB as they ramp up pressure on the league’s commissioner to reverse a decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta over Georgia's new voting law.

GOP lawmakers are publicly scrutinizing Commissioner Rob Manfred’s membership at Georgia’s exclusive Augusta National Golf Club and threatening to take away MLB’s long-held antitrust exemption.

The fight is quickly spreading to other states as well, with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) saying he won’t throw out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers' home opener after MLB adopted “what has turned out to be a false narrative about Georgia’s election law reforms.”

GOP strategists are confident that the MLB fight is a winning issue for Republicans.

“It’s good politics,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

“This is not the last time the Democrats are going to try to do this, bully corporate America into taking their side,” he said, urging Republicans to run TV ads in Georgia pushing back on claims of voter suppression and highlighting the economic impact on the state.

Republicans argue that Democrats and the media have dramatically overstated the provisions in Georgia’s new election law, especially when comparing it to rules in states like New York.

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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Why Some Republicans Think Vaccine Passports Will Backfire On Democrats

Republicans are seizing on the intensifying debate over coronavirus vaccination passports as part of their strategy for recapturing control of Congress in 2022.

In interviews and conversations with The Hill, GOP strategists and operatives acknowledged the growing eagerness among Americans to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But many are also betting that emerging debates about so-called vaccine passports will help them play on voters’ fears of government overreach and privacy violations.

The idea of vaccine passports has gained increasing attention in recent weeks as eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations has rapidly expanded and Americans begin to see glints of a post-pandemic normal on the horizon. The White House has indicated that it will issue basic guidelines for such programs, though it has also said that it has no plans to create a centralized, federal requirement.

“It’s a political winner,” Ford O’Connell, a Florida-based Republican strategist, said. “They look at it as an all-out assault on personal freedoms and the Constitution, but also, it’s about protecting the average, ordinary Floridian who wants to live their regular day-to-day lives.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is among the Republicans who have come out early against the proposals. He criticized the idea of vaccine passports at a press conference Monday, calling it “unacceptable” for local governments or businesses to require proof of vaccination for people to “participate in normal society.”

Read more from Max Greenwood at The Hill

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Backlash Grows Against Georgia Voting Rights Law

Georgia lawmakers are on defense as prominent companies and business executives have come out in opposition to legislation signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) that has been criticized as an effort to stifle minority voters.

Georgia-based Coca-Cola and Delta on Wednesday joined a growing number of corporations this week criticizing the omnibus bill, S.B. 202.

The criticism from top executives comes as activists and Democratic lawmakers have put pressure on Georgia-linked corporations to take a more aggressive stance against the legislation, which the state’s General Assembly passed in a party-line vote last Thursday.

Some GOP strategists are skeptical that the corporate pressure will deter Republicans who are supportive of the bill.

Ford O’Connell, another GOP strategist, added: “Corporations are going to realize that they shouldn't have caved to the pressure the Democrats are putting on them in the media.”

Read more from Marty Johnson at The Hill

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GOP Seizes On Measures Barring Trans Athletes

Republicans are increasingly backing measures to ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ sports teams, seizing on a social issue that resonates with conservatives but that civil rights groups and the LGBTQ community say is discriminatory and harmful. 

The GOP support for the ban was on full display Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the House-passed Equality Act, which included two possible 2024 presidential hopefuls.

“You know who has run faster than FloJo? Seventy-six high school boys in America in 2019 alone,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said at the hearing, invoking the fastest female track and field athlete in history, Florence Griffith Joyner. 

The survey also showed relatively broad support for the bans among Americans. Fifty-nine percent of men and 46 percent of women polled said they supported the ban. Along party lines, 74 percent of Republicans said they supported a ban, while 40 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of independents agreed. 

“This is an issue that drives Republicans to the polls, but it’s also an issue that allows people to expand our audience,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “It’s not just our base that is not thrilled at the direction that this is going in, it’s a lot of people who are in the middle.” 

Read more from Julia Manchester at The Hill

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Republicans, Strategists Differ On Ways To Beat Back Racism Accusations From Dems

Congressional Republicans have a plan for Democrats’ repeated claim that White supremacists infest the Republican Party: silence.

Challenging accusations of racism and White supremacism is pointless because it won’t stop the name-calling, Republican lawmakers say, but sooner or later the Democrats will go too far.

Republican political strategists warned that Mr. Biggs and his colleagues are making a huge mistake.

Pushing back against accusations of racism is a stronger play, said Ford O’Connell, a Republican Party strategist.

“It’s a reasonable fear,” Mr. O’Connell said. “But I don’t think they understand how Democrats move the goal posts in this arbitrary narrative of White supremacy. Eventually, they are going to have to confront the White supremacy allegations head-on because if you allow Democrats to go on and on the public will continue to believe it.”

Read more from Jeff Murdock at The Washington Times

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Biden's Bipartisan Deal Efforts 'Were Never Going To Work Out'

President Biden entered office billed as a consummate Washington deal-maker, but the Democrat's first major piece of legislation is unlikely to score a single Republican vote, calling into question his pledge to work across the aisle.

Democrat Jim Manley, a former top aide to onetime Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, suggested Biden cut his losses early.

"He was smart enough to realize quickly that negotiations with Republicans were never going to work out and that he made the right decision to use the so-called reconciliation process," Manley said.

Democrats, “from the get-go, said that they were going to use budget reconciliation,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

A veteran of several Republican administrations said he thought Biden had never planned to concede much.

Read more from Katherine Doyle at the Washington Examiner

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