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Pelosi immigration speech overshadows Democratic retreat

Simone Pathé, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Energy is at the Democrats' back. Historically, the party out of control of the White House traditionally picks up seats in midterms. This cycle's Democratic challengers are raising significant money. More than 50 Democratic challengers have outraised GOP incumbents in competitive races.

On the eve of the Democratic retreat, a Democrat won a Missouri state House special election in a district Trump carried by nearly 30 points. It's the 35th state legislative seat Democrats have flipped in the 2018 cycle. The party has been energized by down-ballot wins in Virginia and New Jersey last November. And although the Alabama special election was a unique situation, strategist say it taught the party some tactical lessons about mobilizing minority voters.

Biden pointed to those victories in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama. And he name-dropped Conor Lamb, the Democratic nominee in Pennsylvania's special election, prompting applause from House Democrats. Last June, when Democrat Archie Parnell was running in a similarly red district in South Carolina, some of the members most involved in the DCCC didn't even know who he was.

The chatter around Pennsylvania's 18th District right now is another sign Democrats are trying to expand the House battlefield.

"The Red to Blue team here knows he has a real chance of winning," Biden said, alluding to the DCCC's efforts to flip GOP-held seats.

Biden criticized Trump at length, as well as Republicans who he said are only looking out for the president. But he warned Democrats against getting distracted.

He spoke especially forcefully about what he called a "false choice" between fighting for socially progressive values and delivering a message of economic security for the middle class.

He also cautioned Democrats against losing sight of their own message when responding to the president.

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"We are so concerned with stopping the attack on American values," he said, that the party has sometimes had trouble "getting back to the real work."

"We've got to start hollering more loudly for those folks out there," he said of working-class Americans. "We ought to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time."

"Go out and holler guys, go out and holler!" he told the crowd.

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