According to CNN, multiple House Democrats "from across the political spectrum" are "extremely frustrated" by the heightened focus on the so-called "Squad" of far-left freshmen Democrats, a development forced by President Trump's escalating rhetoric against them in a move one of the lawmakers described as "politically brilliant."
In a report published Wednesday after the Trump rally in North Carolina — which included a headline-grabbing moment in which some in the crowd began to chant "Send her back!" in response to Trump's criticism of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her "vicious anti-Semitic screeds" — CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash reported on the growing frustration among some of the House Democrats over the increased prominence of the "Squad": Reps. Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
The conversations with several Democrats, whom Tapper and Bash stress span the political spectrum, took place over the last few days — and before the North Carolina rally.
"The President won this one," one House Democrat told CNN in reference to Trump's focus on the Squad and the Democrats vote Tuesday to condemn his "go back" comments. "What the President has done is politically brilliant. Pelosi was trying to marginalize these folks, and the President has now identified the entire party with them."
"The President's words and actions speak for themselves," said another. "We need to focus on the issues that got (Democrats) here: jobs, health care ... instead of the issues the President brings up deliberately. Anything that takes away from bread-and-butter issues is playing into his hands."
Another "frustrated" Democratic lawmaker made clear to CNN that many on the left side of the aisle are "angry and annoyed" by The Squad's attacks on members of their own party. "I can't tell you the number of members who are angry and annoyed about them criticizing us," the congressional member said.
The sharp escalation of the battle between Trump and the Squad began last week when the president came to the defense of Pelosi after Ocasio-Cortez suggested that the speaker's rebuke of the Squad for portraying fellow Democrats as pro-segregation might have a racial component.
"When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm's distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood," Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Post last Wednesday. "But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful . . . the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color."
Trump weighed in on the internal feud by coming to Pelosi's defense. "I deal with Nancy Pelosi a lot, and we go back and forth and it’s fine, but I think that a group of people is being very disrespectful to her," he said. "I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi, she is not a racist, and for them to call her a racist is a disgrace."
Over the weekend, Trump ramped up the rhetoric in a pair of tweets: "So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," he wrote Sunday. "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"
Pelosi and the Democrats unified, at least outwardly, in their response on Tuesday, the House voting 240-187 to condemn Trump's "racist comments" for having "legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color." The vote contained its own controversies, as the language was deemed to have violated House decorum for its accusation of "racism" against the president. Despite the official rebuke, Trump has not let up on his attacks on the Squad, particularly Omar, as the rally Wednesday demonstrated in dramatic fashion.