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GOP Using 'Soft on Crime' Attacks on Dems Ahead of Midterms

Democrats knew the attacks were coming. Like clockwork, just as their political fortunes appeared to improve earlier this summer, Republicans pounced, battering Democrats with a barrage of “soft on crime” attacks just before election day, the Guardian reports. With voters identifying crime as a top concern in surveys, Republicans have increasingly turned to an old playbook: centering their closing pitch of the midterm campaign on crime. Over the last several weeks, Republicans have ramped up their spending on crime-related messaging, blanketing the airwaves with grisly television ads that cast Democrats as “dangerously liberal,” “different” and enablers of lawlessness. Critics say some ads, particularly those targeting Black Democratic candidates, play on racial tropes, a charge Republicans deny. It is part of a broader strategy to shift the political conversation to issues that Republicans believe play in their favor, after spending the summer on the defensive over abortion after the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe v Wade.

Unlike in 2020, when many Democrats felt ill-prepared to respond as Republicans sought to exploit a backlash to the racial justice protests, party strategists say their candidates were ready this cycle. “There’s an old trope in politics that you shouldn’t repeat the charge,” said Matt Bennett of Third Way. “But that is not what you want to do when you’re attacked as being ‘soft on crime’. What you have to do is make clear to voters that what the Republican is saying about you is a lie.” In ads, interviews and debates, Democratic candidates are countering what they say are Republican “lies” and distortions about their views on policing and criminal justice by emphasizing their support for law enforcement and highlighting endorsement from officers. They are also trying to flip the issue, accusing Republicans of endangering law enforcement and public safety by weakening gun laws and refusing to condemn the insurrectionists who attacked police officers and defiled the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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