On Tuesday, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke to the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference, an early cattle call for Democrats looking at running in 2020. But the message she delivered was anything but the anti-Trump red meat the crowd likely expected.
“We’re not going to see [continued success] if we spend our whole time bemoaning the fact that he’s there,” Klobuchar said of Trump. “He’s there. And we have to present an alternative.”
She added: “I promise you, if that is all we do to follow him down every rabbit hole, that is not how we change the country, that is not how we change the well-being.”
That is interesting – and represents a different line of thinking from many within the party who believe their base’s epic distaste for Trump is coupled with a broader unease among the general public with the President’s policies.
There’s precedent for that sole focus sort of strategy. In 2010 and 2014, Republicans succeeded wildly – in electoral terms – by running as simply not Barack Obama.
Just before the 2010 midterms, then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell famously/infamously told National Journal this: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
Republicans only loosely outlined an agenda of what they would do if given control – and it largely revolved around undoing what Obama had done. Heck, Donald Trump ran and won, primarily, on the idea that he would simply get rid of all the things that Obama did that Republicans (and independents) didn’t like.
The question for Democrats is whether they should follow the example of their Republican counterparts or, like Klobuchar, put a positive message front and center – and avoid making the 2018 and 2020 elections solely about Trump.
The Point: This will be a BIG strategic fight for Democrats running for president in 2020. (In 2018, I think the likely Democratic message will be “We are not Trump.”) Do they make the next presidential election a straight referendum on Trump or a choice between two competing vision for America?
Read Tuesday’s full edition of The Point newsletter.