STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Is Nancy Pelosi Republicans' secret weapon in 2018?

When ...

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 5:30 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 5:30 AM

When Nancy Pelosi concluded her eight-hour immigration speech on Wednesday night, she was greeted with cheers by her Democratic colleagues. Republicans were cheering too.

Why? Because the GOP's top strategists -- up to and including President Donald Trump -- are absolutely convinced that the higher Pelosi's profile is nationally, the better Republican chances of minimizing their losses in the midterm election.

In the contested special election to replace disgraced former Rep. Tim Murphy, conservative groups have been airing ads seeking to link Pelosi to Democratic nominee Conor Lamb.

"Nancy Pelosi and Conor Lamb are still opposing your tax cut," says the narrator in one ad. "Lamb called it a complete betrayal. And Pelosi said: This is Armageddon."

In the Georgia special election won by Republican Rep. Karen Handel last year, Republicans, similarly, worked to turn the race into a referendum not on the Democratic nominee, but Pelosi.

"Every morning I wake up and I take a moment to be thankful that the Republican Party still has Nancy Pelosi because Nancy Pelosi is absolutely toxic," Corry Bliss, who runs a Republican super PAC, told the Washington Times back in June 2017.

If this strategy rings a bell, it's because Republicans have been pursuing it consistently since the 2010 election. In the runup to that midterm, Republicans relentlessly pounded on Pelosi (and newly elected President Barack Obama) as symbols of liberalism run amok.

Pelosi's background -- a wealthy liberal; representing a San Francisco area seat -- made her the ideal symbol of everything lots and lots of rank-and-file Republicans hate about Washington (and Democrats).

In competitive district after competitive district in the 2010 and 2014 elections, Republicans would run some version of this ad: "(Fill in the blank candidate) may say he's not a Washington liberal. But the first vote' he'll cast in Washington is for Nancy Pelosi and her liberal San Francisco values. Those aren't our values."

In the 2010 election alone, according to The Washington Post's Paul Kane, Republicans spent more than $50 million in negative ads featuring Pelosi. That number has likely tripled over the last seven years.

Pelosi's approval numbers are, perhaps not surprisingly, quite low. Less than 29% of people have a favorable view of Pelosi, according to HuffPost's Pollster. That matches the most recent approval rating for Pelosi in polling by CNN -- 29% favorable and 50% unfavorable in September of 2017. She had 37% approval in 2013.

Of late, Trump and his White House have picked up on the anti-Pelosi drumbeat.

"Nancy Pelosi -- what she's doing to this country," said Trump at a tax speech in Cincinnati earlier this week. "And she's gone so far left, and (Chuck) Schumer has gone so far left. Oh, I look forward to running against them."

Speaking to congressional Republicans at their retreat in West Virginia earlier this month, Trump, as he has done several times recently, cited Pelosi's comment that companies were handing out "crumbs" to their workers in the wake of the passage of the tax cut law. (Read this for the full context of the "crumbs" line.)

"She called it crumbs when people are getting $2,000 and $3,000 dollars and $1,000 -- that's not crumbs," Trump said. "It's a lot of money."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has picked up on the anti-Pelosi drumbeat -- zeroing in on the House Minority Leader's less-than-enthusiastic facial expression when Trump called for bipartisanship during his State of the Union address.

"I think Nancy Pelosi looks like that all the time," Sanders said on CNN's "New Day." "I think she should smile a lot more often, I think the country would be better for it."

Oomph.

At issue for Trump and Republicans is the fact that Pelosi isn't in charge anymore. Republicans are. And the most famous/infamous politician in the country is the Republican currently residing in the White House. Can they make Pelosi the centerpiece of the 2018 campaign even as Democrats are trying to do the same with Trump?

That's an impossible question to answer right now. But what we do know is that Republicans are sure as hell going to try.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 252475

Reported Deaths: 5521
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17120175
Hinds16207322
Harrison13353193
Rankin10689211
Jackson10303183
Lee8796141
Madison8232162
Jones6288110
Forrest5949119
Lauderdale5847180
Lowndes5355116
Lafayette494292
Lamar484165
Washington4777123
Bolivar3966108
Oktibbeha392480
Panola368378
Pontotoc362853
Monroe3533105
Warren348498
Union343060
Marshall341665
Neshoba3370152
Pearl River327899
Leflore3002105
Lincoln297085
Sunflower282669
Tate270862
Hancock266559
Alcorn263253
Itawamba262459
Pike262077
Scott246245
Prentiss245052
Yazoo244355
Copiah240849
Tippah240450
Simpson234867
Leake230564
Coahoma230054
Grenada217770
Covington211371
Marion210672
Adams204670
Winston200164
Wayne199630
George199038
Attala193559
Newton191342
Tishomingo184459
Chickasaw183644
Jasper169735
Holmes168567
Clay159033
Stone142320
Tallahatchie140134
Clarke138660
Calhoun135721
Smith120123
Yalobusha116534
Walthall111836
Noxubee110322
Greene109729
Montgomery109434
Carroll104221
Lawrence102417
Perry101631
Amite97725
Webster92224
Tunica86321
Claiborne86125
Jefferson Davis84125
Humphreys82924
Benton81523
Kemper77120
Quitman6888
Franklin66415
Choctaw60313
Wilkinson58325
Jefferson53819
Sharkey42717
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 422598

Reported Deaths: 6120
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62039921
Mobile30225548
Madison27052186
Tuscaloosa20728267
Montgomery18978305
Shelby18504114
Baldwin16251182
Lee12465101
Morgan12233113
Etowah11735168
Calhoun11122200
Marshall10191107
Houston8598148
Cullman8023105
Limestone800274
Elmore7836101
DeKalb768397
Lauderdale754683
St. Clair7535120
Talladega6166108
Walker5897174
Jackson580341
Colbert532073
Blount530483
Autauga518455
Coffee441056
Dale396181
Franklin366248
Chilton336165
Russell330310
Covington327268
Escambia316842
Dallas303196
Chambers282769
Clarke281433
Tallapoosa2616107
Pike248729
Marion245650
Lawrence243647
Winston226635
Bibb215147
Geneva201435
Marengo199029
Pickens196531
Hale175842
Barbour172936
Butler169658
Fayette168226
Cherokee160330
Henry153621
Monroe145217
Randolph139835
Washington137626
Clay126145
Crenshaw118744
Lamar118019
Cleburne117423
Macon114735
Lowndes110335
Wilcox103121
Bullock99028
Perry97419
Conecuh94420
Sumter89026
Greene76023
Coosa60515
Choctaw51224
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
31° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 31°
Columbus
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 27°
Oxford
Clear
25° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 25°
Starkville
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 28°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather