Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly’s campaign criticized his party’s national leaders Tuesday for filing a lawsuit against President Donald Trump for conspiring with Russia in the 2016 election.
Donnelly is one of many Midwestern Democrats growing frustrated with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez’s focus on the Russia investigation, and his advice is to focus on jobs and health. Joe For Indiana communications director Will Baskin-Gerwitz told the Washington Examiner that Indiana voters are concerned with issues besides Russia.
"When Joe travels around the state to listen to Hoosiers' concerns, he hears about the need for more good-paying jobs, protecting access to affordable healthcare, and addressing the opioid crisis," Baskin-Gerwitz said. "He doesn't hear about the DNC suing Russia and the Trump campaign."
Donnelly is one of several Democratic senators running for reelection this year in states Trump won in 2016; the president defeated Hillary Clinton in Indiana by 19 percentage points. Viewing the DNC’s lawsuit as a way of rehashing that election, Donnelly’s campaign is steering clear of attacking the president over Russia.
"We're focused on talking to Hoosiers about Joe's hard work, common sense, and vision for the future of Indiana," Baskin-Gerwitz said, "not rehashing the tired political arguments of 2016."
Others in Perez’s party and in the media have criticized the decision to file the suit. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) called it a "silly distraction" and Rep. Jackie Speier (D., Calif.) called it "ill-conceived."
Perez has not backed down on his strategy to sue the president for conspiring with Russia and WikiLeaks to defeat Clinton in 2016. He said it would be "irresponsible" not to sue Trump for something as grave as tampering with the election's integrity.
"It's hard to put a price tag on preserving democracy," Perez said on "Meet the Press" Sunday.