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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: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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Columbus
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