Rachel Bade at Politico writes that endangered House Republicans have to lead double lives.
Take Dave Brat. At a private fundraiser in early September, the Virginia Republican joked to a roomful of Republicans about how he mimics archconservative House Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan on Fox News when discussing the FBI’s Russia investigation. He then encouraged Sebastian Gorka, a controversial former adviser to President Donald Trump, to get involved in Brat's campaign to gin up the base, according to a recording of the private event obtained by POLITICO.
But in TV ads, Brat has touted his work on issues that transcend party lines. One of them features images of puppies playing with children, and a narrator touting the congressman's work “to stop a federal agency from conducting cruel medical research on dogs.”
The two sides of Brat, a member of the Freedom Caucus, highlight the dissonant strategies House Republicans are deploying in their struggle to keep the House. As national Republicans implore endangered members to localize their races and tout bipartisan victories, hard-liners are urging them to embrace the president to get Trump voters to the polls.
During a recent event with Republican women in Southern California, Republican candidate Diane Harkey described the predicament she's facing in trying to succeed Darrell Issa in a swing district. According to a recording obtained by POLITICO, Harkey said, “We need to get the Trump voters out” and tried to brainstorm ways to do it while also attracting independents.
“In order to hold this election, we're going to have to get Republican voters to vote at least 2 percentage points higher than they normally do in a midterm,” she said. “You know, Trump voters are not really excited to turn out. Hopefully, we can get them to turn out... they'll turn out for the presidential; they won't necessarily turn out for this.”
Harkey proposed that local Republicans make the election about Democrats potentially trying to impeach Trump and roll back the GOP tax cuts.