Rep. Tim Ryan (D., Ohio) said Democrats have a perception problem with working-class Americans during the first Democratic presidential debate.
MSNBC moderator Chuck Todd asked Ryan about pricing carbon, mentioning how some plans have already failed in other states. He followed up by asking how the government would pay for climate mitigation if pricing carbon is politically impossible, and Ryan said Democrats need to revamp their whole political strategy.
"I think we've got to build our way out of this and grow our way out of this, but let me just talk real quick to the previous question about real politics," Ryan said. "We could talk about climate. We could talk about guns. We could talk about all of these issues that we all care about. We have a a perception problem with the Democratic Party."
He went on to say the Democratic Party leaders have "lost all connection" with the working-class people in Ohio and the industrial midwest.
"We have got to change the center of gravity of the Democratic Party from being coastal and elitist and Ivy League, which is the perception to somebody from the forgotten communities that have been left behind for the last 30 years, to get those workers back on our side so we can say we're going to build electric vehicles, we're going to build solar panels, but if you want to beat Mitch McConnell, this better be a working-class party."
"All I'm saying here is if we don't address that fundamental problem with our connection to workers, white, black, brown, gay, straight, working-class people, none of this is going to get done," Ryan added.
Ryan's attack on the Democratic Party echoes South Bend mayor and fellow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who castigated Democrats earlier this year for abandoning the middle class.
"I mean part of it is the kind of, in my view, sort of abandonment of the middle of the country by our party. And I think that’s got to be reversed. I think we learned the hard way what happens when you do that," Buttigieg said. "So you know, investing time and resources matters."