- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 18, 2019

CNN’s Jake Tapper said sources within the Democratic Party are frustrated at President Trump’s “brilliant” political move to make stars of “The Squad.”

The host of “The Lead” says Democrats are privately admitting that it was a strategic masterstroke by Mr. Trump to frame Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,  Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley as their party’s de facto leaders.

The president has infuriated his critics by telling disgruntled Democrats to leave the nation for “totally broken and crime-infested places” and return with a new perspective and expertise.

Mr. Tapper published a dozen tweets detailing the party’s conundrum on Wednesday.

He wrote:

“I’ve spent the day talking to a bunch of [House Democrats] and many are extremely frustrated.  All agree POTUS’s tweets needed to be condemned; they spoke under condition of anonymity so they could be candid. ‘The president won this one,’ said House Dem 1 of the Trump v Squad (AOC, Tlaib, Omar & Pressley) showdown. ‘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.’

Other House Democrats are conflicted about having to defend the Squad given things they’ve said and done. House Dems cited: talk of supporting challengers to incumbent Dems in primaries, AOC’s use of the term ‘concentration camps,’ anti-Semitic comments by Tlaib & Omar. … ‘We couldn’t even bring ourselves to have a resolution exclusively condemning anti-Semitism uttered by one of those members’ — Omar — ‘but we leapt to their defense here.’ …

House Dem 4 recalls that “less than 2 weeks ago when members of our caucus were trying to support funds for children at the border,” the Squad was arguing that “we’re pro-putting kids in cages, we’re against human rights. So there’s frustration.”

“I can’t tell you the number of Members who are angry and annoyed about them criticizing us,” said House Dem 3.

AOC, in particular, “gives her chief of staff license to get candidates to run against her colleagues and to go after them on social media. It makes people’s skin crawl,” said House Dem 3.

Radio host Rush Limbaugh jumped on the news during his broadcast Thursday.

“[The president] wants Pelosi to be forced to accommodate these people,” the conservative said. “He wants them to become the face of the Democrat Party, and he’s going to force Pelosi to take action diminishing them, relegating them outsiders.”

“A bunch of nameless, anonymous Democrats are scared to death, and they told [Jake Tapper] about it with the proviso he wouldn’t use their names. They’re scared to death that Trump is winning on this. They’re scared to death that Ilhan Omar and The Squad are becoming the face of the Democrat Party.”

Mr. Limbaugh then referenced a recent Axios story to expand upon the Democrats’ predicament.

“Democrats are circulating a poll showing that one of the House’s most progressive members — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — has become a definitional face for the party with a crucial group of swing voters,” Axios reported July 14. “Ocasio-Cortez was recognized by 74% of voters in the poll; 22% had a favorable view. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — another member of The Squad — was recognized by 53% of the voters; 9% (not a typo) had a favorable view.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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