A growing number of Democratic lawmakers are publicly pushing their party leadership to shift their focus away from President Donald Trump’s alleged election campaign collusion with Russia and toward the issues facing American voters: jobs, health care, and the economy.
“We can’t just talk about Russia because people back in Ohio aren’t really talking that much about Russia, about Putin, about Michael Flynn,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) said on MSNBC this week. “They’re trying to figure out how they’re going to make the mortgage payment, how they’re going to pay for their kids to go to college, what their energy bill looks like.”
Ryan, who recently launched a campaign to remove Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from her post, said, “if we don’t talk more about their interest than we do about how we’re so angry with Donald Trump and everything that’s going on, then we’re never going to be able to win elections.”
In Minnesota, a state Trump lost by 1.5 percent, gubernatorial candidate and Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) says the state’s residents simply aren’t concerned with the Russia-Trump investigation that has consumed Washington, DC.
“I did a 22-county tour. Nobody’s focusing on that,” Walz said, according to The Hill. “That’s not to say that they don’t think Russia and those things are important, [but] it’s certainly not top on their minds.”
Pelosi and partisan media outlets have honed in on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections, and allegations about Trump campaign collusion have dominated the national political discourse even before the inauguration. While no evidence of wrongdoing on the president’s or his team’s behalf has been proven, both the House and Senate Intelligence committees have launched investigations, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller is leading a separate investigation.
Similar to Ohio and Minnesota, voters in Vermont are not impressed by the Democrats’ pursuit of unproven collusion claims.
“We should be focused relentlessly on economic improvement [and] we should stay away from just piling on the criticism of Trump, whether it’s about Russia, whether it’s about Comey. Because that has its own independent dynamic, it’s going to happen on its own without us piling on,” said Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT).
“We’re much better off if we just do the hard work of coming up with an agenda,” he warned. “Talking about Trump and Russia doesn’t create an agenda.”
Nationally, 64 percent of “voters said the investigations into President Trump and Russia are hurting the country,” while another 56 percent “said it’s time for Congress and the media to move on to other issues, compared to 44 percent who said the focus should stay on Russia,” according to new Harvard-Harris poll.
Another 73 percent of respondents said, “they’re concerned that the Russia probes have caused Congress to lose focus on the issues important to them. That figure encompasses 81 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats.”
Last week, Democrats began devising a plan to replace Pelosi, insisting that the far-left lawmaker had become too toxic after 15 years of leading House Democrats. Jon Ossoff’s election loss in Georgia’s Sixth District special congressional election Tuesday night — a defeat that made Democrats zero for five in Trump-era special elections — raised more questions about whether Pelosi was hurting her party more than helping.
The national media, particularly CNN, the New York Time, and the Washington Post, continue to make Russia the main priority. Democrats, facing re-election and angry voters, are moving on to a more issues-focused agenda.
“If you see me treating Russia and criticisms of the president and things like that as a secondary matter, it’s because that’s how my constituents feel about it,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) according to The Hill.
“I don’t think anybody wants to give a pass to illegal or unethical activity,” Cartwright added. “But in life we all have priorities, and the first priority for my constituents is to their families — as it should be.”