WASHINGTON (AP) – The Republican Party’s self-portraits as advocates of law and order clashes with searing testimony from police officers themselves. Officers on Tuesday described in vivid and personal terms, the terror of defending the United States Capitol from violent insurgents inspired by then-President Donald Trump on January 6.
Will it matter in next year’s election?
Heading into the 2022 midterm elections, the Republican Party seeks a political edge in Americans’ concern about rising crime across the country. But police testimony at Tuesday’s initial hearing of the Congressional panel investigating the insurrection could undermine that effort.
He highlighted the Republican Party’s effort to overcome violence unleashed by a mob of Trump supporters that put hundreds of officials in danger.
“We are talking about people who say they are for law enforcement, for police, for law and order,” said Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell. “However, when they have the opportunity and the opportunity to do something about that, to hold people accountable, you don’t do it, you pass the bucket, as if nothing had happened.”
The audience focused more on how the debate about who is stronger or weaker in the face of crime can unfold in elections. Republicans eager to attack Democrats may face questions about whether the Republican Party did enough to defend law enforcement when it was put to the test.
Scott Jennings, a longtime Republican strategist, who said it was difficult to see testimony from officers and not feel “outraged” and “disgusted,” said he expects crime to be “a massive problem” in the upcoming intermediate competitions. And while he expects Democrats to remain defensive, he said the Republicans’ response to Jan. 6 had given Democrats an opportunity “to distract themselves from some of their real shortcomings.”
“Republicans are sure to attack Democrats for what we would say are efforts to undermine the police. And Democrats are sure they will fight off those attacks with, ‘Well, you weren’t that pro-police when it comes to January 6.’ ‘he said. “When you think about the campaign messages, it just makes it less clean.”
Republicans are struggling to form an effective response to testimony. The two Republican members of the panel, the Representatives. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming are participating despite the objection of their party leaders. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy walked away from the panel after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of her appointees, a decision that makes it difficult for him to influence the audience narrative.
Top Republicans are ultimately working to avoid angering Trump, who remains popular with many Republican voters and is becoming increasingly assertive in the party’s primaries.
What did he have to say about the audience?
In a statement, he said nothing about the conduct of his supporters on Capitol Hill and showed no sympathy for the officers who testified. Instead, he repeated his broader accusations that the press is ignoring the crime that “is eating away at our cities and our country.”
“The United States needs law and order, not to take funds away from the police,” Trump said. “We need our police back. America should and can be safe! “
The Republicans’ strategy on crime, dating back decades into the Nixon era, was one of the winners in many 2020 congressional elections after Trump and other candidates took advantage of calls from some Democratic activists to “defund the police “and invest in alternative measures. as part of radical changes to address systemic racism. The candidate, now President Joe Biden, notably rejected those efforts, instead calling for reforms along with additional resources for law enforcement.
Polls have found that Americans give Biden lower marks when it comes to handling crime than other topics, although a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center found that voters are divided on what. trust party to do a better job in handling crime. About 32% said Republicans, 30% Democrats. About a third said they trust neither or both equally.
The poll also found stark differences between parties’ appetite for investigating the events surrounding January 6. 81% of Democrats said it is “extremely” or “very” important that investigations into the attack on Capitol Hill continue, compared to just 38% of Republicans. Only 9% of Democrats say it is not important, 38% of Republicans.
While most voters have made up their minds about what happened, Alex Conant, a Republican strategist, said he hopes Tuesday’s testimony will nonetheless feature prominently in Democratic campaign ads next year. .
“It is clear that Democrats want to run on the pandemic, the economy and January 6. Republicans want to run on immigration, inflation and crime,” he said. “Midterm voters will hear Republicans say that Democrats want to withdraw funding from the police, and Democrats will point to January 6. And I think in some of these bigger elections, where undecided voters matter, it will be an important debate. “
It’s a tactic Democrats have already been using, including in the White House, where press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday accused Republicans of hypocrisy.
“Many of the Republicans in Congress who are the most vocal about supposedly supporting the police and law and order are the same ones who have dismissed and downplayed the shameful events of that day,” he said.