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Why Senate Republicans Are Feuding Over Their Midterm Message

“That was probably the first thing that Chuck did that showed him as a national political leader,” recalled Kessler. With Scott’s plan, he said of Schumer, “I’m sure he sees it and says to himself, ‘I’ve taken this apart before.’”

Privately, Democrats are realistic about their chances of hanging onto the Senate, and say they must seize the “gift” Scott has given them to force Republicans onto the defensive. On the day of the State of the Union, for instance, Senate Democrats ran an ad accusing McConnell of fighting “for the same wealthy insiders who get rich by keeping prices high.”

During their own retreat on Wednesday, Democrats heard a presentation by Geoff Garin, a pollster, that impressed many of the senators present. Garin’s surveys have found that more voters blame the coronavirus pandemic, “China and foreign supply chains” and “large corporations raising prices to increase their profits” than they do President Biden for inflation.

“The bottom line here is that Democrats have a very strong case to prosecute on rising costs,” Garin said.

Republicans see the attack on Scott as a desperation play in what could be a difficult election for Senate Democrats, who must defend incumbents in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire while trying to pick up seats in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“If I were them, I would try to use it, too,” said Justin Sayfie, a Republican consultant who runs an influential Florida political news website. “But they’re going to have to put a lot of money behind it. How much penetration are they going to be able to get with a message about Rick Scott?”

McConnell and Scott have a fundamental difference of opinion about how to win the Senate, people who have studied both men say.

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