Democrats Target Trump ‘Self-Dealing’ as Midterm Election Theme

(Bloomberg) -- Democrats in Washington are zeroing in on Trump administration controversies and alleged corruption for their 2018 campaign message, reprising a theme they successfully used more than a decade ago to retake control of Congress.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer New York rolled out a campaign agenda Monday that promises new ethics rules to stamp out "self-dealing" and conflicts-of-interest that they argue are rife in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a blueprint released Monday.

The other two planks of the "Better Deal For Our Democracy" agenda include protecting the right to vote and be represented, including by ending partisan redistricting, and to do away with campaign donations from undisclosed contributors through a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Democrats have struggled to find a unified campaign message for the party’s congressional candidates, who range from the party’s progressive wing to centrists running in conservative areas of the county. The party is counting on a voting base energized by anger at Trump to win the 23 seats Democrats would need to gain a majority in the House in November elections. Although Republicans hold just a two-seat majority in the Senate, Democrats have a tougher road there. Ten Democratic senators are running for re-election in states Trump won in 2016.

The message echoes the party’s 2006 approach targeting a GOP "culture of corruption" ahead of a Democratic wave election. It comes as a special counsel is investigating Russian election interference and any role Trump’s campaign played, as well as allegations about deals involving the president’s businesses, international partners and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Schumer said at a news conference in Washington that Democrats aim to “loosen the vice grip that special interests have over Republicans in Washington” and toughen up ethics laws “so that the president’s cronies can’t sell access to the highest bidder.”

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