Republicans are accusing Democrats of appeasing China as part of an accelerating advertising campaign to hold the White House and to win seats in Congress this November.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry launched the latest salvo in this expanding offensive. After state lawmaker Kate Bolz won the Democratic nomination in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, Fortenberry targeted his challenger with digital and radio advertising that suggests she is defending China despite mounting evidence Beijing covered up the coronavirus outbreak and caused needless deaths and economic devastation in the United States. Senior Republican strategists expect this message to dominate the fall campaign at all levels.
Support for holding China accountable for the coronavirus cuts across party lines, and Republican consultants emphasized the issue offers the rare, potent combination of having “immediate relevancy” to voters and being in the news every day. With President Trump and the GOP threatened by the pandemic and skyrocketing unemployment, Republican insiders are confident that focusing on China can shield the party from blame and put Democrats on the defensive.
“People are angry,” said Corry Bliss, a GOP strategist advising Fortenberry and other Republicans on the fall ballot. “Any candidate running for office that is going to defend China or say we have lessons to learn from China should be investigated for point shaving.”