Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOPJoe Pounder
As featured in The Hill (8/28/17):
Recent news reports documenting the relationship between President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell highlight the need for Republicans to go into next year’s elections with a positive record that forms the basis of a strong contrast message.
Right now, the D.C. conversation is driven by process and if the midterm elections were held today, the Republican message would be dominated by disqualification of the Democrats. As head of an opposition research firm, I believe the case against Democrats is made stronger by an overall forward-looking message, raising the stakes of the upcoming tax reform debate even higher.
Up and down the ballot, the best campaigns are those that present a clear contrast message. Elections are choices, not referendums. History is littered with losing candidates who believed in either being 100 percent positive or, for lack of policy vision, went relentlessly negative. Armed with good opposition research, a winning campaign is one that can both effectively undermine their opponent while presenting a positive record or alternative.
In 2014, it wasn’t enough to disqualify Bruce Braley for attacking Iowa farmers. We needed now-Senator Joni Ernst’s strong message about the Iowa commonsense that she would bring to Washington. At the presidential level, the untrustworthy and out-of-touch narratives took hold over Hillary Clinton while President Trump mobilized disaffected voters across the spectrum.
In 2018, we need this same contrast formula to win and that means action on the Hill. As he crisscrosses the nation, Speaker Ryan makes an eloquent case for all that has been accomplished so far. Senator McConnell’s ushering through now-Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was an achievement worthy of our voters. But Republicans need a strong finish to 2017 and 2018 to make the midterm choice clear. That means President Trump and Hill leadership are going to have to work together to produce tangible results.
The answer is tax reform.