Republicans Are Now ‘the Beer and Bluejeans Party’ Because of Trump. So Says the Trump Campaign.
WASHINGTON — Hours before the House Judiciary Committee was set to take a historic vote to push President Trump to the brink of impeachment, campaign officials gathered across the Potomac River for a state-of-the-race briefing in which they described how the Republican Party had been transformed into the “beer and bluejeans party” crafted in Mr. Trump’s image.
“We don’t see anyone who can put together the Obama coalition,” Jared Kushner, a senior White House adviser who is also overseeing his father-in-law’s campaign, said of the Democratic presidential field. “We’re on offense everywhere, and we’re very excited about that.”
Mr. Kushner said that the Republican Party was being redefined with the “old guard cycling out” and that “a lot of people coming in are inspired by the Trump revolution.”
Despite the impeachment inquiry, Mr. Kushner said that revolution still included a new appeal to former Democrats like himself. “I was not a Republican,” he said. “Now I’m a Republican. I think the Republican Party is growing now that people like me feel comfortable being part of it.”
Another official claimed that more than 20 percent of people who attended Trump rallies identified themselves as Democrats.
Mr. Kushner was joined at the briefing by Brad Parscale, the campaign manager; Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee; and Lara Trump, a campaign adviser and the president’s daughter-in-law, among other top campaign officials.
Mr. Kushner, who played a behind-the-scenes role in the 2016 campaign, this time has positioned himself as the person officially overseeing the entire operation from his seat in the West Wing.
The campaign and the Republican National Committee have been eager to demonstrate that despite Mr. Trump’s constant message-bending tweets and ongoing investigations, the re-election apparatus is chugging along steadily as the Democrats try to determine their nominee, with more than a dozen candidates still competing in the primaries.
And while Mr. Trump himself has rued the fact that impeachment might tarnish his legacy, his top political advisers presented the unfolding proceeding as nothing but a boost to the campaign in every metric it measures, from volunteer recruitment to small-dollar donations.
“It lit up our base,” Mr. Parscale said. “They see their vote is trying to be stolen from the 2016 election.”
He added that impeachment meant that it takes “less advertising” to fill up the stadiums where Mr. Trump holds rallies, and that it “puts money in our bank and adds volunteers to our field program.”
Mr. Parscale and others at the briefing outlined a robust campaign operation that plans to compete in states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016, like Minnesota and New Hampshire.
They said they had $93 million in cash on hand, two million volunteers across the country and more than 330 field offices in 17 critical states. Campaign officials said they planned to introduce Jewish Voices for Trump, Evangelicals for Trump, Catholics for Trump and Cops for Trump as stand-alone groups next year.
They said that 8.8 million voters who were “very enthusiastic” about Mr. Trump in 2016 did not show up for the 2018 midterm elections because the president was not on the ballot. But they said those voters remained enthusiastic about Mr. Trump and were expected to turn out in 2020.
Most notably, Mr. Trump’s advisers laid out how many more votes he got in key Midwestern states like Wisconsin and Minnesota than Mitt Romney did as the Republican presidential nominee in 2012. And they pointed out that presidents historically see fluctuations in their approval ratings in the period before their re-election efforts.
In response, Democrats said it was impossible to measure whether impeachment was really creating activity among Trump supporters that the campaign would otherwise be unable to harness — and that what the Trump campaign officials failed to take into account was the grass-roots energy it created on the other side of the aisle.
“I’m skeptical that there’s a huge value add compared to the baseline of what activity would have occurred,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.
Mr. Garin noted that while Mr. Trump’s campaign had tapped into grass-roots activity across the country, so had the Democratic side. “Trump is as big a motivator for our base as he is for his own base,” he said.
Mr. Kushner said the campaign had managed to “cut out a lot of the swamp and consultants” and was running a lean operation, though both the campaign and the Republican National Committee have come under scrutiny for the high rate of 2020 spending. Officials have attributed it primarily to prospecting for small-dollar donors online.
The president has complained in the past about wasteful spending in the 2016 campaign, and Mr. Kushner, multiple people said, has also told him that audits have been conducted, although no such formal review led by the campaign has ever taken place.
One person familiar with Mr. Kushner’s thinking said he had told the president that despite years of investigations nobody has ever found that money was misspent.
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