The 2018 midterm elections are heating up as primaries across the country are preparing for the home stretch, and, while an influx of Democratic candidates are using a mix of local and national issues, a rebuking of the ineffective GOP-led congress and spreading anti-Trump sentiment to fuel their campaigns, their Republican counterparts are at a loss for talking points. The inability to pass key legislation, other than a vastly unpopular tax reform bill, has greatly hampered their ability to find any positive gains to point to on the campaign trail, leaving them scrambling for advertising material ranging from the bland to pointing a shotgun at a teenager.
Because of this lack of a properly motivational platform, many conservatives are reverting back to a tried and tired punching bag to save their seats: Hillary Clinton. Yes, the woman who retired from electoral politics following the 2016 presidential election is again being used to maintain the GOP’s control of Congress and other key state offices, in what many have deemed a hail mary. “It’s obvious that Republicans are desperate,” said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson David Bergstein. According to USA Today, Clinton has been mentioned in 12,864 Republican campaign advertisements, including 5,092 for the Ohio gubernatorial primary alone. That amount of mentions ranks second, behind only President Barack Obama.
The basis of many of the ads running in Trump strongholds nationwide are comments made by Clinton in March when asked about her 2016 loss to Trump during a trip to India: “His whole campaign—‘Make America Great Again’—was looking backwards … You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs, you don’t want, you know, to see that Indian American succeeding more than you are.” Conservative campaigns latched onto her response, using them to claim that she and other Democrats see Trump supporters as “backwards” in a series of campaign ads that are identical outside of the state mentioned within them.
Republicans say that the linking of political opponents to Clinton, who Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics director Andrew Downs affectionately referred to as “a loser,” is a sound strategy, especially when Clinton continues to critique President Trump publicly. “Whenever (Clinton) inserts herself into the conversation and continues to make comments that Trump voters are backwards or deplorable, it’s a reminder to folks in red states that supported him that your sitting senator sided with her over the president you voted for,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Katie Martin.
Surprisingly, Fox News talking head Tucker Carlson criticized the GOP for falling back to the practice of Clinton bashing on the campaign trail. “Hillary Clinton doesn’t run anything anymore — she doesn’t represent the modern Democratic Party,” said Carlson.
The use of Clinton to charm outraged voters is unlikely to stop, at least not until Republicans can actually display a legislative gain that’s worth bragging about to the general public. That’s not likely to happen, though, so they seem content to continue looking backwards for their ripe commentary.