Rep. Cori Bush, the firebrand progressive Democrat from Missouri, is doubling down on calls to “defund the police,” despite admitting that she employs a private security firm to ensure her safety.
During a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ms. Bush was asked if her stance on the issue would pose a problem for moderate Democrats in next year’s midterm elections. Ms. Bush responded that although she “empathizes” with her colleagues, her priority is to “save Black lives.”
“My job is to save lives, the lives of my community,” she said. “We’re talking about increasing the budget for police every year and then [seeing] the budget for health and human services continuing to shrink … so we add more money to the police, but we’re still dying.”
Last week, Ms. Bush made national headlines after defending her use of a private security firm, while simultaneously leading the national campaign to “defund the police.”
“I’m going to make sure I have security because I know I have had attempts on my life,” Ms. Bush said Thursday in a CBS News interview. “If I end up spending $200,000, if I spend 10 more dollars on it, you know what, I get to be here to do the work. So suck it up. And defunding the police needs to happen.”
The comments quickly became fodder for Republicans who see the upcoming midterms as a prime opportunity to take back control of Congress.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP’s House campaign arm, is already out with an ad juxtaposing Ms. Bush’s remarks with reports of crime rates skyrocketing across the nation.
“We want to thank Cori Bush for reminding everyone that Democrats are the party of Defund the Police. While violent crime ravages communities, Democrats are spending campaign dollars on private security for themselves,” said Michael McAdams, the NRCC’s communications director.
On Sunday, Ms. Bush partially blamed the controversy over her comments on a lack of proper messaging.
“We have to work on what we want to say, [on] what is our message,” she said. “But then we also have to understand that we have to save lives … I’m here to stand up for my community.”
• Haris Alic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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