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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

For Dems, Less is More in Commenting on Trump’s Legal Disasters

From “Dems Have a Trump Indictment Strategy: Shut Your Damn Mouth” by Sam Brodey at The Daily Beast:

It might take a Democratic campaign staffer just a few minutes to write the script for a scorching attack ad based on the federal indictment of Donald Trump and his alleged conduct handling classified documents.

The allegations that Trump swiped top secret materials about military and nuclear capabilities, waved them around to guests at his Mar-a-Lago estate, and stored them in bathrooms might constitute as compelling and concise a case against his re-election as exists.

Yet, it’s possible—even very likely—that such an attack ad will never be made in the context of the 2024 presidential campaign.

It’s something like the ultimate catch-22 for Democrats: Although the facts in the indictment could have a unique potency in the race, they can’t talk about them for fear of risking the integrity of a case that Republicans have attacked as a politically motivated ploy to derail Trump.

….President Joe Biden has consistently declined to comment on the work of Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought the indictment. Over the weekend, Biden claimed he had not spoken with Attorney General Merrick Garland about it. And his White House has long stated that he had no role in Department of Justice probes both into Trump’s handling of classified documents and his own, which is being led by Special Counsel Robert Hur.

Brodey adds that “there is a consensus developing among some Democrats that they are better served by ignoring the indictment and focusing on Biden’s record.”

“The calculus everyone is making right now is: Shut the fuck up, let the Republicans kill each other, let things play out while we focus on Biden’s accomplishments and economic wins—and let that in itself be the contrast,” said a Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity to candidly describe the mood in their circles….If anything, one Democratic operative said, the party’s top task will be to connect the indictment to a broader framing that has proven politically potent for them: emphasizing what House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries calls the “Team Normal” versus “Team Extreme” divide.

Brodey concludes, “Their entire brand was premised on the idea that they’re ‘tough on crime’ but now they’re running behind a standard-bearer who is indicted for obstruction of justice,” [Democratic strategist Jesse] Ferguson said. “How long before they have to run an ‘I’m not a crook’ ad?”

One comment on “For Dems, Less is More in Commenting on Trump’s Legal Disasters

  1. Tom in Chicago on

    The matter is in the court. There’s a high likelihood there will be at least one more such “matter” — a Georgia indictment with many charged. And a strong possibility of the big “Conspiracy-to-Undermine” case filed in DC Federal Court.

    So although no force can keep us out ion the communities from rousting about, I think the guidance here is sensible. While Republican leadership must muscle itself into the defense to force siding with Trump, almost no matter how bad the case(s) against him, prosecutors do not need us. We cannot help at this point, except to cheer the cases on for media attention. Let justice take its course(s).


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