Missouri Rep. Cori Bush (D) has had quite a week.
Her sit-in at the US Capitol to protest the lack of an extension of the eviction moratorium put public pressure on the Biden administration, forcing a reversal on the issue.
That win thrust her into the national spotlight. And something she said while in said spotlight is likely going to haunt her party next fall. In an interview with CBS on Thursday, she said this (bolding is mine) when asked about her use of private security:
“I’m going to make sure I have security because I know. I have had attempts on my life and I have too much work to do there, too many people that need help right now for me to allow that. So, if I end up spending $200,000, if I spend 10 more dollars on it – you know what? I get to be here to do the work. So suck it up and defunding the police has to happen, we need to defund the police and put that money into social safety nets.”
Setting aside the part of the quote where she explains her own personal need for security (which certainly got the attention of bad-faith critics on Twitter) it’s that last line –“defunding the police has to happen, we need to defund the police” – that has already been clipped by Republican campaign operatives and could pose a problem for Democrats in 2022.
Why? Because there is no issue better for Republicans in swing districts (and worse for Democrats in swing districts) than the idea that Democrats in Washington want to defund the police.
A USA Today/Ipsos poll conducted in late June and early July showed that just over 1 in 5 Americans (22%) said they supported the “defund” movement, while 77% opposed it. But wording is important here, as a 62% majority of those polled said they support “using some of the police department’s budget to fund community policing and social services,” with just 38% opposed to that framing.
Democrats have spent the last few months insisting that the dangers of “defund the police” movement are overblown because their party’s elected officials don’t even talk about it anymore – that the only people talking about it are Republicans.
Bush’s pronouncement on Thursday puts lie to that idea. And hands Republicans a clip that they can wedge into dozens of attack ads linking swing-district Democrats to a deeply unpopular policy coming out of the month of a Democratic member of Congress.
The Point: Bush said what she believed. And it will likely do nothing but help her standing in her strongly Democratic St. Louis seat. But for dozens of her colleagues – the ones on which the House majority will rise or fall – her comments present a major problem.