GOP celebrates; McConnell defends blocking Garland

GOP celebrates; McConnell defends blocking Garland
Ben Carson ties Kavanaugh allegation to centuries-old socialist group
Washington (CNN)Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Friday tied the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to a century-old plot by socialists.

As the 2018 midterms approach, the Republican Party has a bit of a messaging problem. GOP officials and candidates can’t talk about their tax breaks for the wealthy, because the public hates them. They can’t talk about their health care efforts, because voters hate them even more.

While speaking to reporters, McConnell confirmed that the full Senate will vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh during the last week of September, ahead of the beginning of the high courts next term in October. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a vote on his nomination on Thursday, but Democrats are expected to delay the vote until next week, which is allowed under committee rules.

A problem emerges with the Republicans anti-Pelosi strategy

They can’t talk too much about Donald Trump, because he’s unpopular and is helping drive up Democratic turnout. They can’t talk about their plans to cut Medicare and Social Security, because the backlash would be severe. They can’t even talk about their record of success over the last two years, because Republicans, despite controlling each of the levers of federal power, just haven’t accomplished much.

And that leaves the party with just a couple of remaining pillars: Republicans are running against immigration and they’re running against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). But as Bloomberg News reports today, even this approach is burdened by a significant flaw.

Two years ago in September, McConnell said close Senate races at that point were sort of like a knife fight in a phone booth. Republicans that year held on to their narrow Senate majority.

President Trump likes to mock Nancy Pelosi, but a private survey conducted for the Republican National Committee finds that she’s actually more popular – and beats the president when the midterm election is framed as a contest between the two.

McConnell also acknowledged Tuesday that the Texas Senate race between incumbent Republican Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Beto ORourke has been tightening in recent polls.

The internal poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek, asks registered voters who they support when the November election is framed by Trump and Pelosi. Overall, respondents prefer Pelosi-aligned candidates over Trump-aligned candidates by 5 points, 50 percent to 45 percent. Among independents only, Pelosi still prevails by a 4-point margin. The poll was completed on Sept. 2.

Speaking to reporters at the Gene Snyder Federal Courthouse in Louisville, Kentucky, McConnell was asked if Republicans will hold onto the majority in Congress.

This comes on the heels of a Fox News poll that found Pelosi with roughly the same national approval rating as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and more support than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

I think Teds got a competitive race, by all indications. We certainly expect to win in Texas, but I think he does have a competitive race, he said.

This is not to say I expect Republicans to change rhetorical direction. They’re not really in a position to abandon their anti-Pelosi posture, since they have so little else to run on.

But if the GOP is counting on this message to help defeat Democratic candidates in November, the party may need to lower its expectations.

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