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Democrats’ Jeffries Bets on Lift From Trump: ‘Run, Donald, Run’

·3 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Former President Donald Trump announcing another run for the White House before the midterm elections would be a boon for Democrats and a “disaster” for Republicans, New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries said.

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“Run, Donald, run,” Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Tuesday when asked about the prospect of Trump announcing a 2024 presidential bid before the November election.

“It’s clear to me that Republicans are furiously trying to prevent Donald Trump from declaring his candidacy for the presidency prior to the midterms,” Jeffries, 51, told a panel of Bloomberg editors and reporters in Washington. “Which should tell you all you need to know about how Republicans view Donald Trump remaining at the center of their party prior to November.”

Democrats are facing a daunting November campaign, with President Joe Biden’s dismal approval ratings, spiking inflation and a historical trend that the party in control of the White House loses seats in a midterm election.

But Trump has stepped up hints of another run for the presidency in 2024 even as a congressional committee investigates his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters. A person familiar with his thinking has said the former president is considering announcing a re-election bid as soon as September. That has the potential to refocus voter attention on him rather that rising consumer prices.

Jeffries, a member of a newer generation of House Democratic leaders and widely viewed as a potential heir to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Democrats stand a good chance of holding on to control of the House. Trump has “radicalized” the Republican Party, he said, in ways that aren’t playing well in parts of the country, including the suburbs where the battle for the House will play out.

He also said that the Jan. 6 committee hearings, while not top on many voters’ minds, is getting the attention of the public even though it isn’t intended to be an explicitly political tool.

Jeffries dismissed Biden’s low approval ratings as a drag on Democratic congressional candidates. He said Biden isn’t getting credit for accomplishments, including seeing passage of the American Rescue plan without a single Republican vote, getting an infrastructure plan passed in Congress and putting in place a public health infrastructure in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

“There’s so much good that’s been done it’s hard for the American people to receive it all easily,” he said.

Despite the failure of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, Jeffries said that if Democrats manage to salvage a measure to cut drug prices for Medicare and extend Affordable Care Act subsidies they will have fulfilled key promises they made when they won control of the House in 2018.

He also deflected questions about his future in the House Democratic leadership.

“I’ve said to some of my colleagues in leadership, that obviously we can take nothing for granted,” Jeffries said. “That is the lesson of what happened to the previous chair of the House Democratic Caucus and Eric Cantor. Both of whom were viewed as the heir apparent of their respective caucus or conference. Both of whom are no longer serving in the House of Representatives.”

Jeffries was referring to former Democratic Representative Joe Crowley of New York and former House GOP Congress Chair Eric Cantor of Virginia, both of whom were upset in their own party primaries for reelection.

“The focus has to be in the job you have in front of you,” Jeffries said. “And always put the people of the congressional district you represent, first.”

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