- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Democrats said Tuesday that their path back to power in Washington runs straight through President Trump, with some of the party’s biggest names trying show voters that they are resisting the administration yet are prepared to speak to ordinary Americans.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, hosted a daylong ideas summit for Democrats, and Mr. Trump dominated the proceedings — particularly after reports that he shared highly sensitive information with the Russian foreign minister in a meeting last week.

Combined with his firing last week of FBI Director James B. Comey, Mr. Trump has proved an overwhelmingly attractive target for Democrats still reeling from their losses in the November elections.

“Now is the time to remind him that in this country no one is above the law including the president of the United States. It is time to resist, it is time to fight back, and it is time to make clear what we believe in,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat whom many progressives are pushing to run against Mr. Trump in 2020.

She said the president has created the perfect chance for Democrats to talk to voters about the dangers of large corporations and a permissive campaign finance system that allows interest groups unfettered access to television advertising.

Ms. Warren called on Democrats to back a long list of legislation to clean up “the revolving door” of lobbyists, corporations and government.

“We can pass legislation requiring presidents disclose their tax returns so the American people can see any secret dealings. We can pass my Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act, which requires presidents and vice presidents to put their assets into blind trusts during their years of public service,” she said. “We can demand that Republicans who control Congress can use their oversight authority to hold this administration accountable for self-dealing.”

Former Obama administration officials harked back to his days in office. Former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice said Mr. Trump is squandering America’s leadership role in the world.

“It seems that the current administration looks at the world and sees only threats: immigrants, refugees, Muslims, Mexicans and even trade. It’s America first and the rest of the world last,” she said.

Republicans said the forum showed how far Democrats have to go before they feel the pulse of average voters.

“As they plot their strategy of resistance, Democrats continue to ostracize the millions of Americans who want their representatives to work together, not sit around and come up with ways to say no,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens. “Their allegiance to CAP’s extreme, far-left policies shows how out of touch Democrats are with middle-class Americans all across the country.”

Democrats were stunned by the loss last year of their presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. They also had anticipated winning enough seats to take back control of the Senate. Instead, they ended up with a net gain of two seats, leaving Republicans with a 52-48 advantage in that chamber. Republicans also easily held on to the House and maintained their overwhelming lead in governorships.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, considered a rising star within the party, said Democrats must learn to multitask by paying attention to domestic policy at the same time they criticize Mr. Trump and fret over his foreign policy.

Ms. Harris said Democrats need to find common ground between the parties. One potential area of cooperation, she said, is fighting the country’s drug epidemic — though she said the Trump administration, and particularly Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is going backward.

“To fight Jeff Sessions and his old-fashioned, dangerous approach to drugs, we must embrace what all regions have in common and embrace coalitions,” she said. “Conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul have advocated for a better approach to drug addiction.”

Finding common ground is how Gov. Steve Bullock said he got elected in the red state of Montana, and he said part of finding that common ground is going where people don’t necessarily agree or like you.

“As a Democrat in Montana, I don’t have the luxury to talk to people who only agree with me,” he said. “You have to believe that we share values and you have to fight for them. You have to do things, not just talk about them.

“We also can’t assume that the values of those we disagree with or didn’t vote for us are all that different than those we’re fighting for,” he said. “The values of most Americans aren’t partisan.”

Mr. Bullock said the Democratic Party has shifted away from outreach to voters who disagree with them and don’t go to communities where they feel there is disagreement.

“As a national party, Democrats don’t seem to focus on this anymore. The strategy was all about using data to find people who already agreed with us to drag them to the polls on Election Day,” he said.

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