|By Mica Soellner
July 10, 2021After Republicans hammered “defund the police” rhetoric throughout the 2020 election, Democrats are now poised to flip the message back onto the GOP.
House Democrats are prepared to invoke Republicans’ voting records, including naysaying on the Jan. 6 commission, to prove the party is not as pro-law enforcement as they claim.
Ammar Moussa, rapid response director for the Democratic National Committee, said Republican votes against the Jan. 6 commission and bills that offered federal funding for local law enforcement give the GOP a “credibility problem.”
Democrats also expect the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the newly created select committee to investigate the attack will provide powerful messaging points against Republicans.
The riot has become a Democratic rallying cry that portrays the GOP as in league with violent extremists. Four pro-Trump demonstrators died during the riot and a Capitol Police officer who clashed with protesters later died of a stroke, which the medical examiner ruled death by natural causes. Two other Capitol Police officers died of suicide in the days following the riot.
“Republicans love to talk about being ‘back the blue’ and being pro-law enforcement, yet law enforcement was killed at the Capitol, and nobody wants to talk about that,” said Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based Democratic strategist.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the select committee to investigate the events of Jan. 6, announced last week that the first hearing will feature witness testimony from Capitol Police officers who were on duty that day.
The special committee’s investigation could last until the Nov. 8, 2022 election and Republicans’ response to the riot will likely be a major campaign issue, a House Democratic aide told The Washington Times.
“They failed to show up for the Capitol Police officers and recognize them as heroes,” the aide said. “That’s something that’ll be used against them.”
Brad Bannon, a Democratic pollster and strategist, said crime could be among the top issues next year, and Democrats are likely going to make it a focus in their campaigns.
Among the best defense, Mr. Bannon said, is by using Republicans’ rhetoric and records against them.
“Democrats will have to find a way to blunt Republican attacks on the crime issue,” Mr. Bannon said. “And one way of doing that is basically making the argument that every single Republican in Congress voted against a new law that provided hundreds of millions of dollars to police forces across the country.”
House and Senate Republicans voted against the American Rescue Plan, a signature COVID-19 relief plan touted by the Biden administration, which included $350 billion for state and local governments that could be used to shore up local law enforcement agencies.
The $1.9 trillion package, signed into law by President Biden in March, did not reduce funding for police but potentially made more funds available for police departments. Democrats now are saying Republicans who voted against the package also were voting against funding police.
In a June blog post citing a Fox News interview featuring questions on why Republicans rejected the package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office posted a link titled ‘Fox News: House Republicans Voted to Defund the Police.’
Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden, also turned the message on Republicans while speaking of their votes against the package.
“Republicans are very good at staying on talking points of who says ‘defund the police,’” Mr. Richmond told Fox News in June. “But the truth is, they defunded the police.”
Mr. Richmond, who represented Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District before joining the Biden administration this year, was among several Democrats who blamed ‘defund the police’ rhetoric on lost seats.