Sees op­por­tu­nity for can­di­dates

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren isn’t as toxic as House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi — yet — but Repub­li­can op­er­a­tives are la­bor­ing to change that, say­ing they will use the run-up to the elec­tions next year to try to make the ris­ing lib­eral star too poi­sonous for Democrats to han­dle.

The Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee, the Na­tional Repub­li­can Sen­a­to­rial Com­mit­tee and Repub­li­can-aligned groups such as Amer­i­can Ris­ing are test­ing out the depth of the anti-War­ren sen­ti­ment, hop­ing to in­ject her into Se­nate races the way Repub­li­can op­er­a­tives have made Mrs. Pelosi a drag for House Democrats.

At the very least, they hope to make vul­ner­a­ble Democrats have to de­clare whether they side with Ms. War­ren on some of her most lib­eral causes.

“Just like Nancy Pelosi, El­iz­a­beth War­ren is deeply un­pop­u­lar with vot­ers and her poli­cies are out of step with a vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans, and we think that will be an ef­fec­tive way to brand vul­ner­a­ble Democrats,” said RNC spokesman Rick Gorka.

Mrs. Pelosi has been a sta­ple of Repub­li­can at­tacks, and Repub­li­cans say us­ing her against Democrats helped their party win sev­eral close spe­cial con­gres­sional elec­tions this year.

For­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton has also been a fa­vorite tar­get for Repub­li­can cam­paign­ers, and now they are adding yet an­other woman to the list in Ms. War­ren, whose ap­proval rat­ings are un­der­wa­ter in states such as Vir­ginia and Mis­souri — where in­cum­bent Democrats could face tough Se­nate elec­tions next year.

Repub­li­cans said Ms. War­ren ap­pears to turn off vot­ers more than Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, who does not reg­is­ter much in polls, and Sen. Bernard San­ders, the Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent whose pop­ulist mes­sage res­onates in Trump-friendly states.

Whit Ayres, a Repub­li­can Party poll­ster, said Ms. War­ren is less known than Mrs. Pelosi, but a con­cen­trated mes­sag­ing cam­paign could change that.

“El­iz­a­beth War­ren has that po­ten­tial, but she doesn’t have it yet,” Mr. Ayres said. “It is not un­usual for her name ID to be a good 15 to 20 points lower than Pelosi’s. It is not that she is un­known, but she is not as uni­ver­sally known as the for­mer speaker.”

Ms. War­ren’s of­fice didn’t re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

John McLaugh­lin, a Repub­li­can Party strate­gist, said in­ject­ing Ms. War­ren into the races com­pli­cates things for fel­low Demo­cratic sen­a­tors, who will ei­ther have to side with her, putting them on the lib­eral wing of the party, or else dis­tance them­selves, po­ten­tially an­ger­ing the pro­gres­sive base.

“Her li­a­bil­ity is her rad­i­cal ideas,” Mr. McLaugh­lin said. “If Repub­li­cans or a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent wants to make her a li­a­bil­ity to more mod­er­ate Se­nate Democrats, they have to be able to at­tach those Democrats to some re­ally rad­i­cal ideas — in­clud­ing sin­gle-payer health care and higher taxes.”

The Demo­cratic Sen­a­to­rial Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, the cam­paign arm for Se­nate Democrats, said Repub­li­cans are try­ing to draw at­ten­tion away from their own fail­ures.

“Repub­li­cans will try any des­per­ate and in­ef­fec­tive tac­tic to try and dis­tract from the fact that their toxic health care plan spikes costs and strips cov­er­age from hard­work­ing Amer­i­cans,” said David Berg­stein, a DSCC spokesman.

Both par­ties have sought to make their ri­vals into boogey­men in re­cent elec­tions, to mixed re­sults.

Democrats made mod­est gains in the House and Se­nate last year af­ter try­ing to tie their ri­vals in con­gres­sional races to pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump.

On their way to win­ning back the House in 2010 and Se­nate in 2014, Repub­li­cans framed races as ref­er­en­dums on Mrs. Pelosi, Mrs. Clin­ton, Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Harry Reid and Pres­i­dent Obama.

Ms. War­ren’s na­tional pro­file has been on the rise in re­cent months.

She was a top sur­ro­gate for Mrs. Clin­ton last year and a top critic of Mr. Trump, who re­turned the fa­vor by call­ing her “goofy” and dubbed her “Poc­a­hon­tas” in a jab over her claims of Chero­kee In­dian an­ces­try.

Ms. War­ren gar­nered more na­tional at­ten­tion in early Fe­bru­ary af­ter Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can, cut her off in the mid­dle of an at­tack on the cham­ber floor against Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, who had been nom­i­nated as at­tor­ney gen­eral.

Pro­gres­sives said the clash with Mr. McCon­nell showed that Ms. War­ren should run for pres­i­dent in 2020, while Repub­li­cans sig­naled that they were OK with her be­com­ing the face of the party.

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