Biden’s candid remark offered a window into why Democrats, who already face economic and historical headwinds heading into November’s midterms, have struggled to coalesce around a message to make their case to keep their narrow House and Senate majorities.
They argue that Democrats’ record in the first 14 months of Biden’s administration offers a strong contrast with Republicans, who have so far built their midterm message around opposition to Biden rather than a vision for what the GOP would do if it wins control of Congress in November. Republicans need a net of five seats to win back the House and one seat to retake the Senate this fall.
“The overall message of, yes, Biden has moved the country forward — shots in the arm, money in pockets, has improved unemployment numbers — all of that is true,” said Jane Kleeb, the Nebraska Democratic Party chair. “What’s also true is people like the concrete things that they can get their hands around at the national level as well as the local level.”
“What’s on President Biden’s shoulders and the DNC is improving the overall brand of Democrats,” she said.
Other DNC members also pointed to rising gas prices as a major obstacle in selling the party’s economic achievements.
“We’ve got to clear up this assumption that President Biden is the reason gas is going through the roof,” said Felesia Martin, a Wisconsin Democratic Party vice chair and Milwaukee County supervisor.
“So much is going on. Two years of Covid, carrying into a third year, multiple variants, and it’s impacting everybody economically and on the home front with education. They’re not going to take the time to absorb all the great things that Democrats have done and are delivering on,” she said. “That is the major challenge for all of us.”
Focusing on the GOP
In a call with reporters, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison pointed to Johnson’s comment in a recent Breitbart interview that Republicans should continue to seek to repeal Obamacare if they win control of Congress in November and the White House in 2024.
Harrison also pointed to the recent 11-point plan released by Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm. His plan included a proposal that read: “All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount.”
“Republicans have finally made their agenda crystal clear,” Harrison said. “Thanks to Senator and NRSC Chair Rick Scott and Sen. Ron Johnson, we know exactly what the Republican economic agenda is. It’s for higher taxes, higher health care premiums. And absolutely they have no plan to lower costs on prescription drugs or other things in this country.”
Still, Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said: “Without question, that’s going to be a big issue, given that that’s part of their platform. And every single candidate will be asked about their position on that as we go forward.”
“I believe that folks don’t want to go back to the days when Republicans were focused on the wealthiest in this country and the highly profitable corporations that continue to increase prices right now,” Peters said.
Democrats also previewed an effort to latch Republican midterm candidates to more controversial figures in the GOP, including Trump, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Abbott and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.
Still, Biden told DNC members Thursday night that the party needs to find a way to recapture its energy from the 2018 and 2020 election cycles that were favorable to Democrats.
If the party loses control of Congress in November, the President said, “it’s going to be a sad, sad two years” until the 2024 election.