Democrats Conflicted About Whether to Focus on Russia Investigation on Campaign Trail

Party leader: 'It's not enough just to say that Trump and his allies are bad people'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks about House matters during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, July 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. / Getty Images

Nancy Pelosi / Getty Images

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The investigation into potential connections between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia, and whether to focus on it during election campaigns, poses challenges for Democrats looking to 2018.

Democratic Party leaders, who learned in 2016 that a strictly anti-Trump campaign message is not enough to win elections, told the Washington Post that while the issue is important, it won't be a focus.

Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Labor Party, Minnesota's Democratic Party, said the Russia investigation  "is important to talk about, but I don’t think it’s something that you can focus entirely on."

"It’s not enough just to say that Trump and his allies are bad people. We have to be able to move beyond it and start giving people a reason to vote for Democrats," Martin added.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar  (D.), who is up for re-election in 2018, spoke about the investigation measuredly.

"I consider it a truth hunt and not a witch hunt," Klobuchar reacted to President Trump's referring to it as a witch hunt. "We owe it to our democracy."

"What I want to know is how far this went, who was involved, and who gave the orders," Klobuchar added.

Other Democratic leaders are even more reluctant to use the investigation as a wedge against Trump.

"We don’t spend a lot of time around here talking about Vladimir Putin and James Comey," Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper told the Post.

"I’m as frustrated as anyone by what Comey did and that Putin interfered, and Congress should get to the bottom of that, but if that’s what we talk about … we will lose again," Pepper said.

He said Ohio Democrats' success depends on "getting a core message that appeals across all 88 counties."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) made a similar case on "Late Night With Seth Meyers," arguing that Americans are more concerned about economic issues that impact their daily lives.

"Americans are not staying up every day worrying about Russia's interference in our elections," Sanders said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) faces re-election in 2018 in a state Trump easily won, and is keeping her distance from the investigation.

At a town hall this October, McCaskill pulled out a question asking whether Congress can "stop President Trump from lying to the American people every day?"

McCaskill shook her head, didn't answer and moved on. Later, the senator was more direct when saying she didn't think Trump should be impeached.

"I don’t support impeaching the president. I don’t believe there’s anything that’s occurred that requires an impeachment and so I’m not in favor of that," she said.

In a recent interview, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said her Democratic colleagues should ignore Trump.

"I say to the members, it’s no use talking about him. He’s self-evident. So why don’t we just talk about what we want to do," Pelosi said.

Conor Beck

Conor Beck   Email Conor | Full Bio | RSS
Conor Beck is a Media Analyst for the WFB. He's previously written for The College Fix, Life News, and was a Student Free Press Association Fellow for The Weekly Standard. He graduated from Rice University in 2017.

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