Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Minneapolis Wednesday to fire up the GOP faithful with talk of tax cuts and a rising economy.
He also had this to say: “Congressman [Erik] Paulsen has been fighting every day shoulder to shoulder with President Trump.”
Expect to see the video overwhelming your TV come fall. It’s bound to be the centerpiece of an attack campaign targeting Erik Paulsen.
The congressman has comfortably won five elections to represent Minneapolis’ western suburbs. But his district is changing – rapidly. In 2016, when Paulsen won by 14 percent, the same voters gave Hillary Clinton a 9 percent win over Donald Trump. Since then, the president’s popularity has plunged to record lows.
Pence was indeed right that Paulsen and Trump are kissing cousins. The congressman votes with Trump 97 percent of the time. But he’d prefer his constituents weren’t aware of this. His success has always come from playing the Minnesota Moderate at home, while behaving like the unofficial congressman from Wall Street and/or Arkansas when he’s prancing about D.C.
And as Paulsen well knows, this is not the time to be linked with Trump when his reelection will face stiff winds this fall.
Start with the fact that the party in power almost always loses seats in mid-term elections. Double-down with Republicans’ diving popularity on moderate issues like health care, the environment, and the meteoric rise of the deficit. Then triple-down with polls showing women and young people fleeing the party in droves.
Put it all together, and you have Paulsen spray-painting “S.O.S.” on the streets of Eden Prairie. His formerly locked-up seat is now being called one of the most vulnerable in the nation. Pence’s gift did not help.
The general fury over Trump has also led more voters to look under the hood of Paulsen’s record. They’re not liking what they seeing.
For women, Paulsen voted to sabotage Obamacare and allow insurers to once again bar coverage for pre-existing conditions. For moderates, his vote for the GOP tax cuts will add trillions in debt. And when it comes to the rising tide for gun control, the congressman might as well be your Uncle Bubba from South Carolina, who thinks the mailman is a covert operative of the Deep State.
Paulsen’s voted to subvert Minnesota’s right to decide who carries a concealed weapon. He’s voted to let people deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own affairs nonetheless buy weapons. He’s even voted to protect debtors from taking guns in bankruptcy cases.
As William Wallace once said: They may take our minivans, but they will never take our AR-15s!
So while Pence showed up with a check from his PAC and praise before the Republican stalwarts, he also did his unintentional best to vandalize Paulsen’s future. It won’t be easy to play the mild-mannered Minnesota Moderate with a fleshy orange man-child wrapped around your neck.