WASHINGTON (Associated Press) – The Republican Party’s portrayal of itself as champions of law and order contrasts with unbridled testimony from the police officers themselves. Tuesday’s officers describe it In vivid and personal terms, the defense of the US Capitol building horrified the violent insurrection inspired by then-President Donald Trump on January 6.
Will it be important in next year’s elections?
With the midterms of 2022 approaching, the Republican Party is seeking a political advantage in Americans’ concern about rising crime rates across the country. But police testimony at Tuesday’s first hearing of the congressional committee investigating the insurgency could undermine that effort.
He highlighted the Republican Party’s efforts to get past the violence unleashed by a mob of Trump supporters that put hundreds of officers at risk.
Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gunnell said, “You talk about people who claim to be pro-law enforcement, pro-police, pro-law and order. But when they have the opportunity and the opportunity to do something about holding people accountable, you don’t, you pass the bucket, as if they didn’t Something happens.”
The hearing brought more focus to how the debate over who is stronger or weaker in crime could unfold in an election. Republicans eager to pounce on Democrats may find themselves faced with questions about whether the GOP has done enough to defend law enforcement when test it.
Longtime Republican strategist Scott Jennings, who said it was hard to watch the officers’ testimony and not feel “anger” and “disgust,” said he expected crime to be a “big problem” in the upcoming midterm contests. While he expects Democrats to remain on the defensive, he said Republicans’ response to Jan. 6 gave Democrats an opportunity to “distract attention from some of their real flaws.”
Republicans are sure to attack Democrats for what we might say are efforts to undermine the police. And Democrats are sure they will dodge those attacks by saying, “Well, you weren’t pro-police when it came to the January 6 date.” “When you think about the campaign messages, it kind of makes it less clean.”
Republicans struggle to craft an effective response to the testimony. The committee’s two GOP members, Representatives Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming, join the party leaders’ veto. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy backed away from the committee after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of the appointees, a decision that makes it difficult for him to influence the hearing’s narrative.
Leading Republicans are finally working to avoid angering Trump, who remains popular with many GOP voters and has become increasingly assertive in the party’s primaries.
What did he say about the hearing?
In a statement, he said nothing about the Capitol’s behavior to his supporters and showed no sympathy for the officers testifying. Instead, he reiterated his broader accusations that journalism is ignoring the crime that is “eroding our cities and country.”
Trump said: “America needs law and order, not stopping police funding. We need our police back. America must be safe and can be safe!”
The Republicans’ hard-line crime strategy, which dates back decades to the Nixon era, was a winner in several 2020 congressional races after Trump and other candidates seized calls from some Democratic activists to “defund the police” and invest in alternative measures. As part of sweeping changes to address systemic racism. The candidate, incumbent President Joe Biden, has notably rejected those efforts and instead called for reforms paired with additional law enforcement resources.
Polls find Americans give Biden lower scores when it comes to dealing with crime than on other issues, though a new poll by the Associated Press Center for Public Affairs Research finds voters are divided on which party they trust to do a better job of tackling crime. About 32% said Republicans and 30% Democrats. Nearly a third said they did not trust either or both of them equally.
The poll also found stark differences between the parties’ willingness to investigate the events that occurred on January 6th. 81% of Democrats said continuing investigations into the Capitol attack were “extremely” or “extremely” important, compared to just 38% of Republicans. Only 9% of Democrats say it doesn’t matter, 38% of Republicans.
While most voters have made up their minds about what happened, Alex Conant, the Republican strategist, said he expects Tuesday’s testimony nonetheless to be prominent in Democrats’ campaign announcements next year.
“Obviously the Democrats want to run on the pandemic, the economy, and January 6. Republicans want to run on immigration, inflation and crime,” he said. “Midterm voters will hear Republicans say the Democrats want to defund the police, and Democrats will point to January 6. And I think in some of these larger races, where swing voters are important, that’s going to be an important debate.”
It’s a tactic already used by Democrats, including at the White House, where press secretary Jen Psaki accused Republicans on Monday of hypocrisy.
“Many of the Republicans in Congress who have been most vocal about support for police and law and order are the same ones who have dismissed and belittled the shameful events of that day,” she said.