Schumer’s words turned out to be a blueprint for Democratic success. “Read Schumer’s book,” a Republican strategist told me in a conversation Tuesday. “I don’t think he could have said ‘middle class’ any more than he did.”
Well, I asked, isn’t that what Republicans should be doing, too — focusing on winning back those anxious middle-class voters who abandoned the party in 2008 and 2012?
“Yes, that’s exactly what we should be trying to do,” the strategist said.
But now, instead, comes a high-profile Republican campaign on poverty — a campaign launched without the party’s internal agreement on a specific anti-poverty agenda. Contrary to critics on the left, there’s little doubt that for many Republicans, the initiative is heartfelt. But going forward without a plan leaves the GOP open to the critique that it’s all talk. And even if it were all talk, the new strategy ignores the (at least rhetorical) lesson of the Democrats’ recent successes: when it comes to winning votes, it’s all about the middle class.