Republicans used the "defund the police" slogan after George Floyd's murder to paint the Democratic Party as radical. Since the FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago, many GOP candidates and lawmakers are rallying around their own calls to defund or abolish federal law enforcement agencies.
The demands muddle a narrative embraced by Republicans way before the Black Lives Matter demonstrations of 2020: that they are the party of law enforcement, Axios reports. They also show how much former President Trump has reshaped his party.
Dan Bolduc and Bruce Fenton, leading Republican Senate candidates in New Hampshire, said in a debate they believe the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies need to be significantly "reduced" and backed abolishing the FBI.
Anthony Sabatini, a leading primary candidate in Florida's 7th District, has long called to defund the FBI and tweeted that Florida should "sever all ties with DOJ immediately" and arrest FBI agents on sight.
Tim Baxter, a candidate in New Hampshire’s 1st District, expressed support for abolishing the FBI in a debatee on Saturday. Another candidate, Karoline Leavitt, called to "investigate, litigate and incarcerate them."
J.R. Majewski, the GOP nominee in Ohio's 9th District, says, "I will fight to abolish all unconstitutional three letter agencies," including the CIA.
Asked in a radio interview whether Republicans are "actually going to be willing" to defund the FBI, IRS and other agencies, Bo Hines, the Trump-endorsed GOP nominee in North Carolina's 13th District, responded: "Well, I mean we have to."
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is selling "Defund the FBI" merchandise.
"Crime has been a winning issue for Republicans, and they need to be careful not to jeopardize that," said Alex Conant, GOP strategist and founding partner of Firehouse Strategies
Conant warned that Democrats may be able to "neutralize what has been a very effective issue for Republicans."
Ken Spain, a founding partner of Narrative Strategies and former GOP campaign official, said, "This might score political points in the handful of remaining GOP primaries, but it will serve as a textbook case study in how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the general election.”