A new campaign by top White House allies targeting the most vulnerable senator of GOP over health care sends a loud message to that offensive resistant to the Trump agenda: We’re coming after you.
America First Policies, a White House-backed outside group led by the president’s top campaign advisers, has launched a $1 million attack against Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who on Friday announced that he opposed the Senate’s recently unveiled Obamacare repeal plan.
That included a Twitter and digital ad campaign targeting the senator, including a video that accuses him of “standing with” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a reviled figure in conservative circles.
“Unacceptable,” the video says. “If you’re opposed to this bill, we’re opposed to you.”
America First Policies is set to expand its campaign early this week with TV ads that will go after the Nevada senator.
The offensive is aimed at both punishing Heller and at swaying his vote, and it is a stunning act of political retaliation against a member of the president’s own party — one who faces a perilous path to re-election in 2018. Senior Republicans, many of whom are deeply worried about Heller’s political standing and increasingly nervous about the midterms, were shocked and spent the weekend measuring the possible fallout.
Those close to the White House say the attack is an outgrowth of President Donald Trump’s mounting frustration over his stymied legislative agenda and anger at Capitol Hill Republicans who he sees as unhelpful.
In a Saturday tweet, Trump hinted at his displeasure after multiple senators expressed concerns with the bill: “I cannot imagine that these very fine Republican Senators would allow the American people to suffer a broken ObamaCare any longer!”
By targeting Heller, America First Policies is telegraphing to recalcitrant Republican lawmakers — even those trying to navigate treacherous political waters at home — that they will be punished if they don’t go along with the Trump agenda. Other Republicans could soon face similar attacks.