Being stridently favorable to President Donald Trump will likely be an advantage, if not a prerequisite, in many deeply Republican states and districts in 2020. Trump continues to receive much more support than opposition in parts of the United States that are overwhelmingly Republican, and one need only observe the level of enthusiasm at MAGA rallies to realize that Trump is still wildly popular with his hardcore base. But swing states and swing districts — not to mention places that are predominantly Democratic — will be another matter. And in swing states like Colorado, Iowa, Arizona and Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates will be likely to use Trump’s policies as a weapon against GOP incumbents. Many Republicans seeking reelection to the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives will be caught between a rock and hard place in 2020: on one hand, they don’t want to offend Trump supporters — and on the other hand, Democrats will no doubt try to link them to Trump’s worst policies.
Here are some Trump-related questions that Democratic candidates will be likely to ask Republican incumbents next year in an effort to tar and feather them.
1. So, you think it’s OK for candidates to ask foreign powers to investigate political rivals?
Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa are two of the GOP incumbents who are seeking reelection in 2020 and are clearly nervous as hell when the Ukraine scandal is mentioned. Gardner and Ernst have both been asked if they think it’s OK for Trump to urge a foreign leader, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate political rivals — former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden — and their responses have been evasive. Neither of them want to risk an aggressive GOP primary challenge from a pro-Trump zealot, but because they are seeking reelection in swing states, their Democratic rivals will likely use the Ukraine scandal to attack them — especially if Trump is indicted on articles of impeachment in the House and they have to justify a “not guilty” vote in the Senate.
2. So, you think it’s OK to throw millions of people with preexisting conditions off of health care?
When Democrats recaptured the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 midterms with a net gain of 40 seats, health care was an issue they used to tar and feather Republicans — and that won’t change in 2020. No matter how evasive they try to be, incumbents like Gardner, Ernst and Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona can’t escape the fact that they have supported Trump in his efforts to abolish the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare, and cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance — including those with preexisting conditions, which in the minds of insurance companies, could be anything from asthma to skin cancer to acid reflux to diabetes.
If they’re smart, Democrats challenging Senate and House incumbents in swing states will not be subtle about health care in 2020 and will forcefully ask Republicans, “So, you think it’s OK to throw millions of people with preexisting conditions off of health care? Do you honestly believe that asthmatics and cancer patients deserve to lose their health insurance and suffer medical bankruptcy? No? Then why have you sided with Trump on this issue?”
3. So, you support a president who thinks that pulling out of Syria was a good idea?
Even some of the most pathetically obsequious Trump sycophants — most notably, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — have been critical of Trump for deciding to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and turning his back on the Kurdish-led forces that have been fighting with the U.S. against the terrorist organization ISIS (Islamic State, Iraq and Syria). But that doesn’t mean that Democrats won’t use the Syria debacle to attack Republican incumbents in 2020. And it isn’t hard to imagine the line of attack from Democrats: “So, you support a president who thinks that pulling out of Syria and paving the way for the return of ISIS was a good idea? You say you opposed President Trump on that disastrous policy? And yet, you support his reelection.”
4. So, you think it’s OK to threaten the lives of government whistleblowers?
Trump, speaking at a recent United Nations (UN) event, denounced the intelligence whistleblower whose complaint set off the Ukraine scandal as a traitor and implied that the person deserves to be executed for treason — not only the whistleblower, but also, those in the intelligence community who worked with the whistleblower. For that statement alone, Trump deserves impeachment. And in 2020, Democratic candidates can tar and feather GOP incumbents with the question, “So, you think it’s OK to threaten the lives of government whistleblowers?” Many of those incumbents would respond, “No, of course not,” but Democrats could still try to link them to a president who did make such a threat.