“Ultra MAGA.” “MAGA King.” President Joe Biden, who dodged the words “Donald Trump” for more than a year, suddenly integrated the Trump political movement into his daily lexicon.
While the White House employs this tactic on purpose, that doesn’t mean it’s about to engage in culture wars.
Instead, Biden is attempting what, on the face of it, seems unthinkable: knocking the GOP down on its heels by tying its message to a policy platform spouted by a relatively obscure Florida senator, Rick Scott. They do it with a Republicans term kiss — they’re already selling it on merchandise and raising money from it — with the GOP already predicting this will backfire, and Scott’s political operation saying it couldn’t be happier.
“It’s hilarious. They highlight their greatest vulnerability,” said Curt Anderson, a top political adviser and founder of OnMessage Inc., which consults with the Republican National Senate Committee and many senators and candidates. “It’s almost like they’re trying to hurt each other.”
Whether it’s the subject of ridicule from Republicans, it doesn’t matter to the White House.
“There is very solid, database-based research that the term ‘MAGA’ is repulsive to swing voters,” a source familiar with the White House’s strategy told NBC News.
The research, according to the person, was conducted by the Center for American Progress and other Democrats for more than six months.
MAGA is an unmistakable word that easily conveys “extremism” to Republicans’ own base, and that’s how Democrats want to paint midterm Republicans, White House officials said.
“The plan that congressional Republicans have proposed – whether it’s raising taxes on working families, fighting Mickey Mouse and banning books – are extreme plans that don’t focus on the concerns of families across the country,” said Kate Berner, a White House spokeswoman. “The president thinks it’s important to call these plans for what they are, which are extreme and ultra MAGA and to contrast that with his approach.”
Although his party yearns for Biden to get more aggressive with Republicans, even Democratic analysts admit the strategy is risky. While the White House notes that Americans cite inflation and the rising cost of energy and food as their top concerns, Americans blame the White House squarely for inflation and rising food prices. essence.
However, portraying Republicans’ broader agenda as extreme may well fit with Democrats’ arguments against the Supreme Court’s ongoing plan to strike down abortion protections.
A handful of red states have discussed a series of more restrictive regulations related to reproductive rights. In Louisiana, for example, a panel proposed, then stopped, to take up a new law that would allow women to be charged with murder if they obtain an abortion.
“It’s something the president is going to talk about; reproductive health care, reproductive rights — and we’ll have more to say when the Supreme Court rules on that,” Berner said.
But abortion is not where the White House is focusing its “ultra-MAGA” rhetoric.
It is aimed at Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who leads the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. In February, he proposed an economic plan that included taxing all Americans. The White House pointed to polls that showed little support for the fiscal aspect of its plan (though other features, like adding police defunding and limiting congressional terms, were popular).
This week, Biden used his bully pulpit to attack Scott, the head of the GOP Senate Elections Committee, over the economic plan.
Some Democratic strategists and donors say the president is making a mistake by shifting attention to his predecessor at a time when many voters are focused on inflation.
Not only does the two-step argument send a complicated message — Scott’s plan is more MAGA than Trump — but persuaded voters will credit or blame Biden for his handling of the economy, these critics say.
“The problem with the White House is that they keep thinking that Donald Trump is on the ballot. That’s the part where you obsess over bogeyman politics. When you focus on the bogeyman politics, it only really works when the bogeyman is there,” said Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis. “It doesn’t work when you’re the president and you’re the ruling party.
A prominent party fundraiser has expressed confusion over the ultra-MAGA brand.
“It sounds silly and it elevates and proliferates MAGA and Trump,” the fundraiser said.
But John Anzalone, who served as Biden’s chief pollster, says the opposite is true. Scott’s plan has been embraced by some National Republicans, and from now on it’s their main offer.
“It’s smart politics. And not a very complicated policy, by the way,” Anzalone said. Scott leads the committee tasked with taking over the Senate. “Therefore, you know what midterm reviews mean [for the GOP] and Joe Biden tells you what he stands for and whose side he stands on.”
Republicans say Americans aren’t going to buy it, and for their part, this new tactic is not only futile, it passes the buck.
“Biden never took responsibility for any of the crises he created, so it’s no surprise he’s now trying to blame Rick Scott, Republicans, and all that ‘ultra MAGA’ means,” said Chris Hartline, spokesman for the Republican National Senate Committee.