'A Big Night For Identity Politics': Republicans Slam Democrats' 'Facade Of Unity'

The Democratic National Convention opened with the national anthem and an overtly Christian prayer, with a theme of “We the People” as the party emphasized unity on Monday night.

But Republicans argued that it is difficult to square American unity with identity politics and increasingly liberal policies.

"There is no question the first night of the DNC convention was aimed toward highlighting a heavy dose of the diversity of voices within the Democratic Party — how else does one comport Michelle Obama, Eva Longoria Baston and Bernie Sanders?” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “But regardless of who spoke for the Biden/Harris ticket, the message was the same — irrespective of the faux plaudits employed — look at how rational and moderate we are. Nod, nod, wink, wink.”

“The central question is, can the Democrats keep this facade of unity going for an entire week when the only thing that truly binds them is their disdain for Trump?” O’Connell continued. “Chances are someone isn’t going to stick to script, and Trump will be able to take advantage. But only time will tell."

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

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Eyes Turn To Ocasio-Cortez As She Seeks To Boost Biden

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s star rises in the Democratic Party, all eyes are on how the progressive powerhouse will influence the 2020 platform — and with it the prospects of Joe Biden at the top of the ticket.

Yet Republicans see their own strategic opportunities in the rise of liberal figures such as Harris and Ocasio-Cortez, who are radioactive in conservative circles. And GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told The Hill that tying Biden to Ocasio-Cortez could help Trump “recapture” exactly the voters slipping away from him, such as senior citizens and suburbanites.

“One of the big points that President Trump wants to sell is that Joe Biden sells himself as a moderate but in reality he’s a figurehead for the far left,” O’Connell said. 

“The very voters Trump needs to recapture to win this election ... they are not big fans of what AOC is selling,” he added.

O’Connell noted that some establishment Democrats are already seeking to diminish Ocasio-Cortez’s role in the convention. He pointed to comments by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) suggesting Ocasio-Cortez speaking would be unnecessary.

“What you can tell is when you look at someone like Ed Rendell is it becomes immediately clear that establishment Democrats see her as annoying and often pretend the words that come out of her mouth or on Twitter never really happened,” O’Connell said. 

“[But] she is the present and future of the Democratic Party, and when she talks, Democrats listen — particularly the far left,” he added.

Read more from Zack Budryk and Mike Lillis at The Hill

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Kamala Harris Is A ‘Dream’ Rival For Trump

Kamala Harris might be the “dream” Democratic vice presidential pick — for President Trump.

In picking a liberal-on-paper senator whose attempts to thread the needle between her party’s center and left in her own presidential bid proved ineffectual, analysts say presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden may have just handed Trump one of the Republican’s greatest weapons yet.

Congressional watchdog groups have listed Harris as one of the most liberal senators in Washington over her three years on the job. Voteview.com, which analyzes members’ ideology based on their voting records, rates Harris as more liberal than 97% of her Democratic colleagues. In the statistic currently favored by Trump’s team, the nonpartisan GovTrack.usranked Harris as the most liberal senator of 2019 — ahead of even U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s perceived as one of the nation’s leading progressives — based on the bills she cosponsored.

“They have to be pushing back immediately and hard with a singular mind on the moderate Harris narrative,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said. “This idea that she’s a moderate is insane because she’s only a moderate if (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi is only considered a bastion of conservative thinking.”

Read more from Lisa Kashinsky at the Boston Herald

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Trump Seeks To Build Campaign Momentum With Middle East Deal

President Trump is seeking to build up some much-needed momentum with the landmark peace agreement announced Thursday between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), arguing it shows his negotiating skills are changing the Middle East in a positive way for U.S. interests.

The accord marks the first time the president has secured a major foreign policy agreement with overwhelming bipartisan support, and it builds political capital at a critical time when his campaign is grappling with disapproval over how Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic and the staggering unemployment rate.

“His out-of-the-box thinking and style has been criticized by all of them, and yet he continues to deliver,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “I think that this is a weapon for him, particularly in what we expect to be such a tight close race.”

The strategists knocked this idea, arguing that three previous administrations sought to broker a peace deal and only Trump has succeeded.

“Biden tried to make the case that yes the president deserves credit, but somehow they set the ball in motion and that's just not true,” said O'Connell. “This is a historic breakthrough in an area that both Republicans and Democrats have tried to move the ball forward. And now, the Trump administration has something concrete.”

Read more from Olivia Beavers at The Hill

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Explainer: How The Coronavirus Changed U.S. Political Conventions, Perhaps Forever

The U.S. political convention, a presidential campaign ritual dating to the 1830s, is being reinvented on the fly after being short-circuited by the coronavirus pandemic - much like the campaign itself.

Here is a look at how the Democratic and Republican conventions will be different this year - and maybe for campaigns to come.

For Trump, his speech could be a chance to move beyond the debate about his handling of the coronavirus and allow him to present his broad vision for a second term, said Ford O’Connell, a former Florida Republican congressional candidate who consults with the Trump campaign.

“The campaign believes if they can get past that hurdle, it’s easier to make your other points,” he said. “This is the place for Trump to make his case about where he wants to take the country.”

Read more from John Whitesides at Reuters

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National Anthem vs. Normalcy: Trump’s Mixed Messaging On Return To Sports

President Trump has a message for professional and college athletes contemplating whether to suit up amid the coronavirus: Play ball — but only after the closing lines of the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Still, many see no contradiction between wanting to watch professional sports and avoid political controversy at the same time. Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham's Shut Up And Sing has become to some fans "Shut up and dribble."

“From LeBron’s hypocrisy on China to woke slogans on the back of NBA jerseys to kneeling during the national anthem, Americans, by and large, prefer to keep their politics and sports separate irrespective of their political leanings," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist. "These are trying times. We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and sports, whether professional or amateur, are a form of escapism from the hard realities we face. So, President Trump is saying what many, even those who disagree with him politically, are thinking, 'play ball,' but please leave the politics in the locker room.”

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

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'There Is No Playbook': How Trump And Biden Are Trying To Run Virtual Campaigns During Coronavirus

President Donald Trump’s campaign has ridiculed rival Democrat Joe Biden for remaining cloistered during the pandemic, forced to give speeches, meet activists and raise money almost entirely from the seclusion of his basement in Wilmington, Delaware.

But as precautions and concerns about COVID-19 have grown, Trump has also halted his signature rallies at least temporarily and started his own virtual gatherings to keep in touch with voters.

“It’s totally different," said Ford O’Connell, adjunct professor at George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management who has worked on Republican campaigns including the late Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential run. "There is no playbook to campaigning in the coronavirus era."

"Trump likes the rallies because for him it’s about energizing his followers and his folks tend to evangelize their friends, families and neighbors," O'Connell said. "I think not being able to campaign has taken a greater toll on Trump than the Biden folks."

Read more from Bart Jansen at USA TODAY

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Pelosi Wants To Play Gutter Politics: Ford O'Connell

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell says Democrats expect the national media to throw them softball questions and will 'blame and shame' journalists for asking hard questions.



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Democrats Don’t Want Barr To Look Into ‘Trump-Russia Hoax’

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell argues Democrats want presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden to win so the Durham probe will never come out.

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Trump Attempts Shift In Tone On Gloomy Election Polls

With just over three months to go until November’s presidential election, Donald Trump is trying a new tactic: humility.

With more and more national opinion polls giving Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, a widening lead over Mr Trump, the president returned to the White House podium last week for his first coronavirus press briefing in nearly three months with a markedly different tone.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who is close to the Trump campaign, said the White House “wants to make the case that [the president] is leading the charge to combat the coronavirus and save American lives”. “It is all about being front and centre on the coronavirus,” Mr O’Connell said. “If President Trump continues to make coronavirus briefings as he did this week, where he is succinct, realistic and informative . . . not only will the key voters he needs come home to him . . . but many other voters will be far more receptive to his messages concerning Biden.”

Read more from Lauren Fedor at the Financial Times 

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