“Donald Trump did this”

With this phrase, Harris should get everyone’s attention

by A. Altieri D’Angelo

The Democratic Party (the Party) and the Biden reelection campaign have struggled to connect with voters. Biden has only improved by 1.4 points in the national election polls since October compared to Trump, even though voters are now focusing on a Biden-Trump rematch. Biden received a positive reaction to his State of the Union speech and is presiding over an improving economy. However, the war in Gaza, Biden’s age, and inflation have created problems for the President, but there has been an improvement overall. Biden and the Party have failed to develop an effective and impactful messaging strategy until this week.

On April 9th, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that an 1864 law (which bans almost all abortions) could now be enforced since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the Dobbs case that the right to an abortion was no longer protected under federal law. The ruling upset most people in Arizona and nationwide. Kamala Harris, the U.S. Vice President, was scheduled to visit Arizona to discuss student loan relief, but she sensed an opportunity and turned the meeting into a pro-abortion rally. She purposely sought to blame Donald Trump for the verdict. She wanted Trump and the Republican Party (the Republicans) to own the consequences of the judgment. She coined the slogan: “Blame Donald Trump.”

The Biden campaign subsequently revised the concept to say, “Donald Trump did this.”

The slogan is brilliantly effective because of its directness and simplicity. Historically, campaign slogans have focused on the positive aspects of the candidate or that person’s plans for the future. “Donald Trump did this” does the opposite. It is accusatory and challenging. The slogan is focused directly on the former President and what he did wrong. The slogan may become one of the most powerful tools in the Biden/Harris campaign. The Arizona decree is an example.

Trump has already recognized the danger of embracing a hardline anti-abortion position. For that reason, Republicans and Trump are backing away from the Arizona ruling. Trump had released, just a few days before the verdict, a policy statement that indicated he would leave any decisions on abortion law to the states. However, upon hearing of the Arizona decision, Trump suggested that the ruling went too far, and he expected the Arizona state legislature to enact a law to revoke the 1864 act. Democratic state legislators tried to pass such a bill, and the Republican-controlled State House of Representatives and Senate rejected the attempt. (Trump also indicated that Florida legislators would do the same for a recent ruling that banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.)

Trump’s policy statement (while intended to project a moderate position) seriously disappointed his conservative pro-life backers; they are demanding a national ban on abortions. They want a federal anti-abortion law to be implemented. The pro-life movement feels threatened by allowing individual states to decide the abortion issue. Pro-Abortion groups have placed (or are placing) proposals to change state constitutions to allow abortions. To date, such measures have all been approved. Pro-Life groups are seeking ways to prevent such constitutional amendments from being voted on. (By the way, most people believe a newly elected President Trump will seek to impose a federal ban on abortions.)

Trump’s problem is that the country is overwhelmingly in favor of allowing women some form of reproductive rights. It is a losing issue for the Republicans. Also, the number of abortions has increased on a year-to-year basis since the Dobbs ruling. Women who seek abortions are traveling to states that allow such procedures or are taking abortion pills (which are considered safe); such pills are shipped interstate to users.

The new slogan will condense all aspects of the abortion debate, amplify pro-abortion anger, and hurt Trump and other Republicans at the polls.

Adopting this phrase should have two additional effects: 1) it gives Kamala Harris a platform to raise her visibility among voters, and 2) the phrase can easily be used for anything (non-abortion related) that Trump did.

Harris has yet to convince people she can effectively replace Biden. “Donald Trump did this” will be her call to action. She will be able to attack Trump effectively, thereby allowing Biden to focus on the positive aspects of his presidency and enhancing her standing with the public.

Harris can also use the phrase to highlight Trump’s other failures, such as his poor environmental policies (i.e., reducing emission standards), the relaxation of worker safety rules, and making it harder for students to seek relief when for-profit colleges and universities victimized them. Trump could be called to account on a long list of issues. And with the phrase, “Donald Trump did this,” she should get everyone’s attention.

Harris gets an “A” for being creative!

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