Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday that Republicans were “running scared” ahead of the midterms amid a series of special election losses.
Jeffries, a New York Democrat who has been tipped as a successor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said a confluence of recent events from the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade to the raid on Mar-a-Lago had put Republicans in a bind.
“They’re running scared,” said Jeffries. “They’re not measuring the drapes anymore because the positions of extreme MAGA Republicans on the economy, on democracy, on reproductive freedom… on a whole host of issues have been exposed and the American people do not like what they see.”
Jeffries claimed, in particular, that a spate of recent special elections had thrown into question the conventional wisdom that a president’s party loses seats in a midterm election. He noted the Democrats’ victory in House races in New York and Alaska last month, as well as the rejection of a ballot initiative in Kansas restricting access to abortion.
Pelosi, D-Calif., echoed the sentiment during a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday.
“How many times have I told you over the past year and a half plus, that the Democrats would hold the House, despite some of the so-called conventional so-called wisdom … saying that in the off-year the president’s party always loses Congress,” said Pelosi. “The fact is that isn’t conventional and it isn’t wisdom because convention has changed.”
The comments come as Democrats are increasingly confident about their chances ahead of November.
President Biden’s approval rating has increased slightly and Democrats are more optimistic about their chances of keeping the House and Senate. The morale boost is partially the result of Congress passing the White House’s $739 billion climate and tax legislation.
Democrats are optimistic not only about their legislative accomplishments, but also the view that they have a clear message for voters: mainly that GOP supporters of former President Donald Trump are extremists and threats to democracy.
“We are defending freedom, families, the flag,” said Jeffries. “They are trying to undermine freedom, families and the flag.”
Biden said during a campaign speech in Wisconsin earlier this month that “MAGA” Republican members of Congress are “full of anger, violence and hate.”
However, while Biden has stressed that he does not believe all Republicans are enthralled with the MAGA ideology, House Democrats were not quick to make that distinction.
“These are extremely dangerous times and MAGA Republicans are seeding chaos, fear and they know it,” said Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass.
The president has faced stiff blowback from Republicans for his MAGA comments.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who gave an address before Biden’s Wisconsin speech, said the president has “chosen to divide, demean and disparage his fellow Americans.” McCarthy demanded Biden apologize to “millions” of Americans.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.